COLLEGE BASKETBALL / NCAA TOURNAMENT : So Much for UCLA’s Draw : East Regional: Bruins find out that Penn State isn’t a pushover in 74-69 first-round loss. Foul trouble silences MacLean in the second half.
Coach Jerry Tarkanian of No. 1-ranked and heavy tournament favorite Nevada Las Vegas wasn’t the only one who thought that UCLA had been given a great draw in the NCAA tournament.
The Bruins thought so, too.
But Penn State, making its first appearance in the tournament since 1965, showed the Bruins otherwise, upsetting UCLA, 74-69, Friday in a first-round game before 14,436 at the Carrier Dome.
“You never think about something like this, especially with the draw we had,” said forward Don MacLean of the Bruins, who will fly home today with suitcases full of fresh, still-packed clothes.
The Bruins had planned for an extended stay in the East.
Seeded No. 4 in the East Regional, UCLA had talked of reaching the Final Four after seeing the draw. After all, the Bruins were opening against a team that probably wouldn’t have made the 64-team field this season if it hadn’t won the Atlantic 10 Conference tournament last week on its home floor at State College, Pa.
The Bruins, though, fell far short of their goal, ending a season of unfulfilled promise with a 23-9 record.
They were 10-8 in the last two months of the season.
Penn State, meanwhile, improved to 21-10, advancing to the second round, in which it will play Eastern Michigan.
“It’s a great win for our program and comes at a really nice time, too,” said Coach Bruce Parkhill of Penn State, whose team will join the Big Ten after playing next season as an independent.
For UCLA, it was a crushing loss. With a strong showing in the NCAA tournament, the Bruins had hoped to silence their critics, who considered them a strong offensive team that showed little interest in defense.
“Those people seem to be very wise now,” UCLA’s Gerald Madkins said. “We didn’t put up, so now we have to shut up.”
At their worst in close games against teams that slowed the tempo--UCLA lost five games that came down to the last minute during the Pacific 10 Conference season--the Bruins faltered down the stretch again.
The game turned during a five-minute stretch in the second half--after MacLean, the Bruins’ leading scorer, had gone to the bench after picking up his fourth foul while jostling in the post with Penn State center Dave Degitz, who was jockeying for position away from the ball.
“He was posting up and I was trying to get around him,” MacLean said. “It’s just a shame that you work your whole life to get to this tournament and three guys (officials) take it away from you.”
Ahead when MacLean departed with 14:45 to play, 44-40, the Bruins trailed when he returned with 9:49 left, 53-48.
“It was a swing that we couldn’t overcome,” Madkins said.
The Bruins, however, regained the lead, 60-59, on two free throws by Keith Owens with 5:32 left. But then they faded badly after Darrick Martin’s free throw pulled the Bruins even at 61-61 with 4:35 to play.
UCLA’s next six possessions resulted in four turnovers, a missed three-point shot by Martin--who scored five points and made only one of nine shots--and only two points. Penn State’s next six resulted in nine points and a 70-63 lead for the Nittany Lions with 1:07 left.
“They clamped down,” Madkins said. “They wanted to win.”
Penn State was moving on.
UCLA was moving out.
“I thought the best job done was by Coach Parkhill,” UCLA Coach Jim Harrick said. “I thought he prepared his team tremendously. They played us just perfectly. And, of course, his kids executed.”
In so doing, they shot down the Bruins, who probably gave the Nittany Lions hope when they made 65.5% of their shots in the first half, but opened only a 36-32 halftime lead. Penn State, despite making only 46.7% of its shots, had nine offensive rebounds.
“I was pretty concerned in the first half because, all too often, UCLA was doing whatever it wanted offensively,” Parkhill said. “Yet I felt we were in pretty good shape to still be in the hunt, considering the fact that I didn’t think we played very good defense.
“In the second half, the guys played a lot tougher--with more confidence and a lot more aggressively.”
The Nittany Lions clamped down especially hard on MacLean, who made his first six shots and scored 12 points in the first 10 minutes, but didn’t make another shot until only 71 seconds remained.
In between, he attempted only three shots, missing all.
He and Tracy Murray, the Bruins’ other high-scoring forward, combined for only 11 points in the second half.
All told, UCLA made only 34.4% of its shots after halftime, with Martin and Mitchell Butler combining to make only two of 13.
“They were going to let somebody else beat them beside Murray and MacLean,” Harrick said of the Nittany Lions.
UCLA couldn’t find anybody.
UCLA’s Don MacLean and Tracy Murray were the highest-scoring forward duo in the NCAA tournament, but they were outscored by Penn State’s James Barnes and DeRon Hayes, 35-32. . . . Barnes, a 6-foot-7, 250-pound senior, led the Nittany Lions with 19 points and eight rebounds. . . . Freddie Barnes, a junior guard who was the most valuable player in the Atlantic 10 tournament, played only 14 minutes because of foul trouble.
MacLean, on his state of mind after returning to the game with four fouls: “You’re so caught up in watching every move and trying not to foul that you end up being less effective.” . . . In UCLA’s season-ending loss to Duke last March, Darrick Martin scored four points, making one of nine shots.
Said Gerald Madkins, who told reporters this week that he would consider this a bad season for UCLA if the Bruins were eliminated from the NCAA tournament before the round of 16: “I stick to those words. To me, this is a disappointing end to the season.” . . . The Bruins said they hadn’t overlooked the Nittany Lions. “We were so unaware of these guys that we were kind of nervous,” Madkins said. “The unexpected causes a lot of fear.”