Bulldogs' Run Comes To An End
March 23, 2000
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - The NCAA tournament has a new sentimental favorite - scowling old Gene Keady.
The 64-year-old Purdue coach is one victory from his first trip to the Final Four after his Purdue Boilermakers ended the tournament run of those darlings of college basketball, the Gonzaga Bulldogs, 75-66 Thursday night in the semifinals of the West Regional.
Keady said that, obviously, the Final Four is the goal, but for his team, not for any personal reasons.
"I don't care if I fill my resume out," he said. "I've had a great career. I'd rather make a 20-foot putt against my buddies."
Still, one more victory and the Boilermakers will be headed to Indianapolis, and a shot at the national championship just a short drive from the Purdue campus.
"It's just amazing to know that we have one more game - 40 minutes - and we'll be going home to Indianapolis," Purdue's Brian Cardinal said.
The 'Zags were done in by basketball basics - defense and rebounding.
Purdue slowed the game to a half-court pace and pestered Gonzaga's guards into a tough shooting night.
Jaraan Cornell, whose season-long shooting slump came to an end when the NCAA tournament began, scored 18 points for the sixth-seeded Boilermakers (24-9), who play the LSU-Wisconsin winner in Saturday's regional final.
In Keady's 20 seasons at Purdue, the Boilermakers have been to the round of 16 five times, including the last three years. But this will be just their second appearance in a regional final in that span. Purdue lost to Duke in the Southeast final in 1994.
Carson Cunningham added 14 points, Greg McQuay scored 11 and Cardinal had 10 for Purdue. Cardinal had eight rebounds, and Cornell and McQuay grabbed seven apiece as Purdue dominated the boards 44-33, 20-13 on the offensive end, and the margin was a lot bigger most of the night.
"That's been one of our strengths all year - offensive rebounding,"
Cardinal said. "And we decided to go out every game and go to the boards as
hard as we can, because we know we have an edge on most teams."
Casey Calvary scored 20 and Axel Dench 14 for No. 10 seed Gonzaga (26-9). The Bulldogs' Richie Frahm scored 14 but nearly all came late in the game. He was 1-for-5 from 3-point range. Matt Santangelo, like Frahm in his final collegiate game, was 4-for-18 from the field, 1-for-7 on 3-pointers.
"Our game plan was just to make it as hard as possible for Frahm and Santangelo to get looks," Cornell said. "They are a great 3-point shooting ball team. Our main thing was to just meet them at the 3-point line and try to push them out and make them work as hard as we could."
Santangelo's cold shooting night mirrored the one he had in Gonzaga's West regional final loss to eventual champion Connecticut last year.
"Everything was just a little bit short," he said. "That's just the way it goes."
Gonzaga, a small Jesuit college in Spokane, Wash., captured the heart of basketball fans across the country last season with its run to the West finals. This year, the Bulldogs were at it again, until they were shut down by the Boilermakers.
"Well, it's one heck of a ride once again," Gonzaga coach Mark Few said.
With four seniors on the team, the end was a severe jolt to the 'Zags.
"After we gave our little tribute to the crowd at the end of the game and we ran off the floor and up the ramp, it hit me - this is the last time I'd feel any of this," Santangelo said. "It's very emotional. It's been a wonderful run for all of us."
Gonzaga made several runs at Purdue.
Down 61-45 with six minutes to play, the Bulldogs scored eight in a row, the last six by Calvary, to cut it to 61-53 with 3:35 remaining. But after a timeout, Cardinal scored inside, then batted the ball to the backcourt to a teammate after Cornell's missed free throw. Mike Robinson scored on a goaltending call against Calvary, and Gonzaga's tournament magic had run out.
"It seems like our depth wore them down a little bit," Keady said, "and after that we got some transition baskets and we just kept hanging in there and playing good `D."'
The Boilermakers took control in the first half with a 17-2 run that put them up 30-17 on Cardinal's two free throws with 5:03 left. Six Purdue players scored during the surge. Cornell and McQuay had four points apiece, Cunningham hit a 3-pointer, Robinson had a fastbreak basket and Kenny Lowe had a driving layup.
The Bulldogs made four of their first five shots en route to a 10-4 lead, but they made just five of 21 after that and went 4 1/2 minutes without a point.
Trailing 35-22, Gonzaga outscored Purdue 10-2 to start the second half to cut it to 37-32 when Frahm made one of two free throws with 16:08 to play. But the Boilermakers scored the next 10 points, including 3-pointers by Chad Kerkhoff and Cornell to pull ahead 47-32 with 12:17 to play.
Purdue has made it to the Final Four twice - in 1969 and in 1980, the year before Keady became the team's coach.
By BOB BAUM
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