The Associated Press
SEATTLE Ä With its starting point guard on the bench and its greatest coach in the stands, UCLA won its first national championship in 20 years and kept Arkansas from joining the select list of repeaters.
The top-ranked Bruins won their record 11th NCAA title last night with an 89-78 victory that was even more impressive considering senior Tyus Edney was limited to 21/2 minutes because of a sprained right wrist.
Ed O'Bannon stepped up as he was supposed to, but so did freshman Toby Bailey and Cameron Dollar, Edney's replacement, and it all meant the first title for the school since 1975, when John Wooden, who sat quietly in the stands of the Kingdome, won the last of 10 in a 12-year span.
''I'm very proud,'' Wooden said. ''To be honest, I didn't think they could win it without Edney. He makes that team run. But Bailey and Dollar played wonderfully. Dollar didn't score many points, but his defense was superb.''
As UCLA received the championship trophy, O'Bannon, who was voted the outstanding player in the tournament, turned to the Bruins' fans in the stands, pointed at Edney and shouted: ''This is the real MVP right here. He got us here.''
The UCLA fans then started chanting, ''Tyus! Tyus! Tyus!''
For Arkansas, it was the end of a tournament run of close finishes and it ended one game short of becoming the second repeat champion since Wooden's Bruins won seven in a row, ending in 1973.
The Razorbacks had come to rely on its great defense and great player, Corliss Williamson, in the second half, but neither was there against UCLA.
O'Bannon scored 30 points and had 17 rebounds in a game that certified his All-America credentials. Bailey, who had struggled to a 1-for-
2, two-point outing in the semifinals, finished with 26 points and nine rebounds. And Dollar, the backup point guard who played in the shadow of the lightning quick Edney, came up with eight assists.
''I owe a lot to Tyus,'' Dollar said. ''The two years we've been together, he taught me a lot, and I was able to apply it tonight."
Edney had been UCLA's sparkplug during the tournament and beat Missouri in the second round with a length-of-the-court drive and basket in the final seconds.
''I think he had the best tournament of any player of the 64 teams up until tonight,'' UCLA coach Jim Harrick said of Edney. ''But what a gutty performance by the rest of the guys. They sucked it up and played hard.''
''It was a bad feeling knowing I couldn't play, but I had confidence in my guys,'' Edney said. ''They've played without me before. I knew they could do it.
Williamson, who was 9-for-12 in the second half of the semifinal win over North Carolina, finished 3-for-16 from the field against the Bruins, including a 1-for-10 effort in the second half. Williamson was stymied by 7-foot UCLA center George Zidek.
''I just played as tough as I could,'' said Zidek, who is from Prague in the Czech Republic. ''I tried to move my feet. I did it, but I don't know how I did it, but I shut him down.''
Instead of the Razorbacks swarming and defending as they had all tournament in the latter stages of the game, it was the Bruins who managed to hold Arkansas without a field goal for a 4:47 stretch that ended with Williamson's first basket of the second half with 2:25 to play.
That made it 77-68 and the Razorbacks were out of the last-minute miracles they had managed in the early rounds.
The Bruins built a 65-53 lead with 11:27 left on a rebound basket by Bailey. Arkansas managed to get within 67-64 on a free throw by Williamson with 5:22 left, but O'Bannon hit a jump hook, Bailey scored on yet another rebound and O'Bannon and Dollar each made two free throws and Bailey scored again and the lead was again 12 with 3:13 left.
The victory was the 19th straight for UCLA.
Read Next Article