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Thursday, May 22, 1997

Mata faces battle to retain WAC title

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PECOS, May 22 -- Former Pecos Eagle sprinter Willie Mata will face a
tough test this week, in trying to defend his Western Athletic
Conference title in the 400 meter dash.

Mata, who won two sliver medals and a bronze in the 400, while taking a
gold medal in the 800 meters in three trips to Austin while a member of
the Eagles' track team, took the 400 meter title at the WAC meet a year
ago as a freshman, with a 46.13 time. He also won gold medals as a
member of the Miners' 400 and 1600 meter relay squads.

However, this season, the addition of three former Southwest Conference
teams, plus Fresno State to the conference has increased the level of
competition at the WAC meet.

Mata, who will run in the preliminaries of the 400 meters this afternoon
at San Diego State University, is seeded second, behind TCU's Johnny
Collins, who has a 46.35 time as his best this season, compared to
Mata's 46.70. His UTEP teammate, Addis Huyler is just behind, at 46.79.

Mata isn't the only UTEP runner facing a challenge. His relay teammate
and NCAA record holder Obadele Thompson is also seeded second to a TCU
athlete, Percival Spencer, in both the 100 and 200 meter dashes, while
the Miners' 400 and 1600 meter relay teams are ranked second to the
Horned Frogs going into the WAC meet.

Mata is one of two former District 4-4A competitors who won state
championships competing in the WAC meet. Big Spring's Drexel Owusu, who
won the Class 4A triple jump title, is competing in that event and the
long jump for Rice University. He goes in seeded first in the triple
jump and second in the long jump.

Finals in the 400 meter dash and in both relays, are scheduled for
Friday in San Diego.

Brownlee nearing decision on college

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PECOS, May 22 -- Pecos Eagles' senior Bryan Brownlee is leaning towards
attending one of two Big 12 schools, after placing second two weeks ago
in the finals of the Class 4A discus competition and fourth in the state
4A shot put finals.

Eagles' track coach Mike Ferrell said he was planning to talk with the
senior this morning about his plans for the fall, after hearing from a
trio of Texas schools on Wednesday.

"A&M, Angelo State and Texas Tech called him last night," Ferrell said
this morning, during the Austin Elementary school track meet at Eagle
Stadium. "My understanding was A&M wanted him pretty bad and offered him
a full scholarship."

A&M placed third last weekend behind Texas and Nebraska in the Big 12
track meet. Tech's program hasn't fared as well over the years, but
Ferrell said, "Tech has Greg Scholars, the former TCU coach, and that
should help their program a lot.

"He's one of the legendary Texas sprinters. He ran on the Olympic team
in 1984 ad in international competition for years. I'd expect he'll be
able to improve Tech's program," Ferrell said.

Brownlee won all nine meets in both the discus and shot prior to the
state finals, and Ferrell said, "I think if Bryan goes to Texas Tech
he'll be one of the top throwers in the conference as a freshman.

"The main thing I hear from the coaches is about his size," he said.
"It's an asset, because they just don't make that many 6-6 shot putters."

In addition to the shot and the discus, Ferrell said Brownlee could
throw the javelin in college. The event is run in high school in New
Mexico, but not in Texas.

Rockets fail to elbow out Jazz

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AP Basketball Writer
SALT LAKE CITY, May 22 -- They couldn't stop the pick-and-roll, they
couldn't grab any rebounds, they couldn't mount a comeback.

When everything had already failed for the Rockets, including a pre-game
gripe session with the referees, Charles Barkley resorted to thuggery
near the end of Utah's 104-92 victory Tuesday night.

``I was trying to separate his shoulder or break his rib,'' Barkley said
of a flagrant foul he committed on John Stockton midway through the
final period. ``I was serious.''

That's how frustrated Utah has made Houston, which returns home to The
Summit for Games 3 and 4 Friday and Sunday.

And unless the Rockets find a way to stop Utah's well-oiled,
multi-faceted attack, they are in danger of being swept out of the
Western Conference finals.

``We've got to win Friday, we've got to win Friday,' Barkley said. ``You
can come back from 3-1, but not from 3-0.''

Utah had such a well-rounded attack that the fans, for the first time in
at least a month, didn't even chant ``M-V-P'' at Karl Malone. Instead,
they were on their feet cheering the entire team -- and with good

Stockton had 26 points, 12 assists and eight rebounds; Malone had 24
points and 15 rebounds, Jeff Hornacek scored 17 points and Bryon Russell
added 12.

Utah's bench pitched in, too, just as it did in the Jazz's 101-86
victory in Game 1. Led by reserve center Greg Foster and backup point
guard Howard Eisley, Utah's bench outscored Houston's 23-11.

``They've been giving us a lift,'' Stockton said of Utah's bench. ``They
come in and score and get us a little bit of a lead, and I think that
gives everybody a sense of confidence. You can use any edge you get in
the playoffs.''

The Jazz also outrebounded Houston 56-37.

The Rockets tried to gain an edge prior to Game 2 by complaining to the
referees that the Jazz are setting illegal moving picks.

``We addressed it in a professional manner, but it was like talking to a
wall,'' coach Rudy Tomjanovich said. ``I'm not trying to be a whiner,
but it's a factor in the game.''

The officials did not call Utah for a single moving pick violation, and
the Rockets' collective temper boiled over when Barkley flattened
Stockton underneath the Jazz's basket.

``Next time I'll break him in half,'' Barkley said to referee Jack Nies.

``They're going to keep setting their moving picks, and obviously the
refs aren't going to do their jobs,'' Barkley said before mentioning
that he was deliberately trying to hurt Stockton.

``Whatever,'' Stockton replied. ``That's my comment on what he did and
what he said - whatever.''

Hakeem Olajuwon led the Rockets with 30 points, but almost half of them
came in the fourth quarter when Houston was already out of it. Barkley,
who fouled out, added 16 points and Clyde Drexler had 15.

The Jazz took control by enfing the third quarter with a 15-2 run,
getting strong contributions from their lesser-known players while
Houston's attack deteriorated into a series of isolation plays, most of
them unsuccessful, for its three superstars.

Hornacek hit a corner jumper, Eisley made a 3-pointer, Foster made a
corner jumper, Russell stole the ball from Drexler and went in for a
fastbreak dunk,

Eisley made another jumper, Foster scored on a drive and Eisley closed
the period with two free throws to send Utah into the fourth quarter
with an 83-68 lead.

``It's amazing how long we hung around,'' Rockets coach Rudy Tomjanovich
said. ``They made a run, we missed five layups in three minutes and we
could never make a game out of it after that.''

Houston was unable to cut its deficit below nine points in the fourth

If there is any solace for the Rockets, it's that they were the last
team to successfully come back from an 0-2 deficit. Houston did it in
1994 and 1995 against Phoenix on the way to back-to-back championships.

``Now the pressure is on us,'' Barkley said, ``but I think we will play
a lot better at home.''

State and Regional Sports Pages--San Angelo Standard-Times

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