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Today's word on journalism

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

On permanence:

"My work is being destroyed almost as soon as it is printed. One day it is being read; the next day someone's wrapping fish in it."

--Al Capp, cartoonist (1909-1979) (Thanks to alert WORDster Jim Doyle)


Aggies' tournament run ends early with 63-62 loss to Northridge

By Tyler Riggs

Referees view a replay of the final second of the game, when Northridge got called for traveling after grabbing a rebound. The refs kept their original call, put 0.8 seconds on the clock and awarded possession to USU. An inbounds play failed and USU's record fell to 26-3. / Photo by John Zsiray

March 12, 2004 | ANAHEIM, Calif. -- For the Utah State men's basketball team and its fans, the unthinkable happened Friday night -- the Aggies failed to win the Big West Tournament.

The No. 21 Aggies were upended by Cal State Northridge, 63-62, eliminating hopes for an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.

The fifth-seeded Matadors used momentum from wins Wednesday and Thursday to build an early lead.

"Obviously that was a great effort by Northridge and a tough loss for us," Utah State head coach Stew Morrill said. "Right now I'd like to go back to the old tournament format; it was better for us."

The Aggies received a bye to the semifinals after finishing the regular season 17-1.

Northridge played with confidence, an important factor after suffering two blowout losses to Utah State in the regular season, Matador head coach Bobby Braswell said.

"I told them tonight before the game that it was their destiny and that they
need to come out and claim their destiny," Braswell said. "I'm just thankful to God up above for just giving me the opportunity to coach this group."

Northridge was led by junior forward Ian Boylan with 27 points and junior guard Joseph Frazier with 13. Spencer Nelson paced the Aggies with 19 points.

With 58 seconds remaining, Mark Brown gave the Aggies at 62-60 lead with two free throws. On the ensuing possession, Boylan found a wide-open Frazier for a three-pointer.

Utah State called a time-out with 10 seconds remaining.

Then the controversy started.

Mark Brown found Jason Williams in the corner for an open shot. The shot missed, but the Aggies' Nate Harris grabbed the rebound. The Matadors' Thomas Shewmake and Eto Onyenegecha also had hands on the ball, and the three tried to wrestle the ball from each other as time expired.

Northridge fans, believing they had won the game, rushed the floor, but the game officials said there was a jump ball. After watching the replay, the officials put 0.8 seconds on the clock. The Aggies were unable to get the win, however, when Frazier intercepted Brown's inbounds pass.

Morrill said it was difficult to prepare for the speedy Northridge team, considering the Aggies didn't know the Matadors would be their opponent until Thursday night.

"We were doing a smorgasboard, preparation wise," Morrill said. "It's hard to simulate Northridge's quickness."

Morrill said much of the credit for the Aggies' losing goes to the Matadors and their scouting.

"There's always a reason you don't play well, and it's usually called the opponent," he said.

Morrill said he didn't know how the loss would affect the Aggies' chances of being selected for the NCAA Tournament.

"All these experts on TV, if they all know what they're talking about, we're in, right?" Morrill asked.

"We've been nationally ranked for six weeks, we won 25 ball games, we're 17-1 in league. Losing a one-point game in your conference tournament destroys all that? Not for most people, not for most leagues and it shouldn't for us.

"It's going to irritate the hell out of me if it does."

The Matadors will play in the championship game Saturday against the winner of the Idaho/Pacific game. The Aggies will meet Sunday afternoon to find out if they will play in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, which starts Thursday.

Stew Morrill, right, and Spencer Nelson talk about the tough loss. / Photo by John Zsiray


Copyright 1997-2004 Utah State University Department of Journalism & Communication, Logan UT 84322, (435) 797-1000
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