Oklahoma State, St. Joseph's set up regional final

Friday, March 26, 2004

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Solving one of the nation's most rugged defenses got Oklahoma State to the regional final and kept alive hopes for longtime coach Eddie Sutton's first national title.

Oklahoma State took Pittsburgh's pushes, shoves and banging for 33 minutes, then delivered a knockout blow with a late 17-5 run that carried the Cowboys to a 63-51 win Thursday night.

"We played loose, got a chance to run and we capitalized on that," Cowboys guard Janavor Weatherspoon said. "We like to get up and down, and in the second half we got opportunities. That was the difference."

Oklahoma State (30-3) will face St. Joseph's on Saturday in the East Rutherford Regional for the right to go to San Antonio for the Final Four.

It will be the sixth regional final for the 68-year-old Sutton. He has been to the Final Four twice, but he has never gotten to the championship game.

After being held to 30 percent shooting from the field in the first half, Oklahoma State hit 16-of-25 shots in the final 20 minutes against the Panthers' aggressive man-to-man defense. Not only did the Cowboys shoot better, but they kept Pittsburgh (31-5) off the offensive boards, allowing only four second-chance opportunities after giving up 12 in the first half.

Tony Allen led the Cowboys with 23 points in a game that was a lot closer than the final score.

Carl Krauser had 15 points and Jaron Brown 11 for the Panthers.

St. Joseph's 84, Wake Forest 80Jameer Nelson, Delonte West and St. Joseph's put on quite a performance for Billy Packer.

With their No. 1 nemesis watching from the front row and their fans chanting his name in the final minute, the Hawks showed they were a worthy No. 1 seed. Nelson and West each scored 24 points, keying an 84-80 victory over Wake Forest.

The celebration almost came too early, though. Trailing 76-68, Wake Forest whittled its deficit down to 82-80 with 11.9 seconds left. But then Nelson escaped a double-team trap in the corner and passed to West, who was fouled. West made both free throws.

The only thing left to do for coach Phil Martelli was walk across the court and shake hands with Packer. The CBS analyst and Wake Forest alum had said the Hawks did not deserve a top seed.

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