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    Monday, April 15, 2024

    Men’s NCAA Tournament roundup

    Saint Mary's Mitchell Saxen shoots against VCU’s Jamir Watkins in the second half of an NCAA Tournament first round game in Albany, N.Y. Saint Mary's won, 63-51. (John Minchillo/AP Photo)

    West Region

    Saint Mary’s 63, VCU 51

    Saint Mary's got the pace it wanted — and another win in the NCAA Tournament.

    Mitchell Saxen had 17 points, seven rebounds and four blocks, and Saint Mary’s beat ailing VCU 63-51 on Friday.

    Alex Ducas also scored 17 points as the fifth-seeded Gaels (27-7) advanced to the second round for the second straight year. Logan Johnson had 12 points and 10 rebounds — part of a strong effort in the paint for Saint Mary’s — and reserve Augustas Marciulionis scored 13 points.

    Saint Mary’s will play No. 4 seed UConn on Sunday. The Huskies advanced with an 87-63 victory over Iona.

    In a matchup of the Gaels' more deliberate style and the Rams’ up-tempo game, Saint Mary’s controlled most of the action.

    “I thought we’d beat them inside," Saint Mary's coach Randy Bennett said. “Both teams have good guards. It was a gritty game, and we just kind of outlasted them a little bit and got a little separation and were able to hang on.”

    Ace Baldwin led VCU (27-8) with 13 points, but he hurt his right Achilles tendon and groin after taking a jumper with just over 14 minutes left in regulation. The Atlantic 10 Conference Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year lay on the court for a couple of minutes before receiving treatment on the bench and back in the locker room.

    VCU was down 38-34 when Baldwin left and 48-39 when he came back with 9:03 left after the Gaels of the West Coast Conference went on a 10-5 spurt sparked by a three-point play by Kyle Bowen.

    Baldwin hit a jump shot after returning but left the floor for good three minutes later.

    “It’s a bummer," VCU coach Mike Rhoades said. "Your best player goes down in an NCAA Tournament game, like come on, man. But this is sports. This is competition. Things happen. You’ve still got to find ways. You’ve still got to find a way. Look, we got beat by a better team today. They played better in the second half than we did, and they won."

    Saint Mary's outrebounded VCU 37-29 while holding the school to its second-lowest point total of the season. The Rams had 47 against Memphis.

    “The whole second half, our message to each other was keep plugging, keep running our offense, and they’re going to break,” Saxen said. “(The injury) might have been the tipping point that broke the dam, but I think it’s a testament to our persistence and just trusting each other that we were able to just keep plugging until the water broke.”

    The NCAA appearance was the first for 12th-seeded VCU since it had to forfeit a game in the 2021 tournament because of a COVID-19 outbreak. The Rams had won nine in a row.

    Saint Mary's held a 29-28 halftime lead in a rugged contest where neither team led by more than four points and tight, tough defense was the norm.

    Saint Mary's shot 3 for 17 from 3-point range and 41% (20 for 49) overall. Freshman guard Aidan Mahaney, who was averaging 14.5 points, was 0 for 5 from the field and didn't score for the first time this season.

    “Like I said before, this is the best sporting event in this country,” Bennett said. “So everybody’s watching. There’s a little pressure there. I look forward to seeing him play Sunday. He’s a good player. He got in foul trouble, and he didn’t have a great game today, but he’ll bounce back.”

    VCU wasn't much better. It only made six field goals in the second half. It shot 36.7% (18 for 48). Baldwin was its only player in double figures.

    Gonzaga 82, Grand Canyon 70

    Slow-starting Gonzaga finally started playing like a title contender, then wore out Grand Canyon behind 28 points and 10 rebounds from Julian Strawther.

    Zags senior Drew Timme brought his sweatband and handlebar moustache back to March Madness and finished with 21 points, six rebounds and three blocks for the third-seeded Bulldogs (29-5), who haven’t lost a first-round game in the tournament since 2008.

    Next up for Gonzaga is a game Sunday against TCU.

    Like almost every Zag outside of Strawther, Timme was bottled up and frustrated in the first half, then came out of halftime and looked like a different player. After trailing by as many as seven, Timme’s three-point play gave Gonzaga a 48-40 lead early in the second half.

    Ray Harrison led the 14th-seeded Lopes (24-12) with 20 points and Chance McMillian had 16.

    TCU 72, Arizona State 70

    JaKobe Coles hit a floater from the lane with 1.5 seconds left and No. 6 seed TCU rallied from an 11-point second-half deficit to beat 11th-seeded Arizona State.

    Coles took a pass Mike Miles Jr. from near the top of the 3-point circle, dribbled once and let go of the game-winner. Arizona State's desperation heave at the buzzer missed.

    Miles, playing on a hyperextended right knee, finished with 26 points for the Horned Frogs (22-12).

    DJ Horne had 17 for Arizona State (23-13).

    East Region

    Kentucky 61, Providence 53

    Oscar Tshiebwe pulled down 25 rebounds, the second-most in the tournament since 1973, and Kentucky beat Providence.

    Antonio Reeves scored 22 points and Jacob Toppin had 18 for the sixth-seeded Wildcats (22-11), who advanced to face Kansas State on Sunday.

    Eleven of Tshiebwe's rebounds came on the offensive glass — a big factor in the Wildcats staying in control as both offenses grinded to a halt after halftime.

    With the two-time Associated Press All-American grabbing just about every loose ball, Kentucky finished with a 48-31 rebounding advantage, controlling the offensive glass (plus-10) and dominating in second-chance points, 18-2.

    Ed Croswell scored 16 points for Providence (21-12), which shot just 36.2% while making 5 of 24 3-pointers.

    Marquette 78, Vermont 61

    Kam Jones scored 18 straight points for Marquette in the second half, and the second-seeded Golden Eagles beat No. 15 seed Vermont for their first NCAA Tournament victory in a decade.

    Jones finished with 19 points. Oso Ighodaro scored 14 points and David Joplin added 12 as Marquette (29-6) pulled away in the last 10 minutes. Marquette won its first NCAA Tournament game in a decade and advanced to face Michigan State on Sunday.

    Dylan Penn, Matt Veretto and Robin Duncan each had 11 points for Vermont (23-11), whose 15-game win streak was snapped.

    Jones made a 3-pointer early in the second half to begin an 18-6 spurt during which he scored all of Marquette's points as the Golden Eagles pulled ahead 63-46.

    Florida Atlantic 66, Memphis 65

    Nicholas Boyd drove into the lane and made a floater with 2.5 seconds left, and Florida Atlantic beat Memphis in a rugged, back-and-forth game for the school's first-ever NCAA Tournament win.

    Coach Penny Hardaway’s Tigers (26-9) had the ball and a one-point lead with 19 seconds left, but a steal by Brandon Weatherspoon and a subsequent jump ball — Hardaway argued his team had called timeout before the tie-up — gave the Owls (32-3) a chance, and Boyd converted.

    Giancarlo Rosado scored 15 points to lead ninth-seeded FAU, which advanced to face a surprising opponent, No. 16 seed Fairleigh Dickinson, in the second round of the East Region. The Knights knocked off top seed Purdue in one of the biggest upsets in March Madness history.

    Kendric Davis scored 16 points despite being hobbled by a second-half leg injury for eighth-seeded Memphis. Davis also got into a shouting match with teammate Malcolm Dandridge, who shoved Davis during a second-half timeout.

    DeAndre Williams added 13 points while playing most of the second half with four fouls for the Tigers, including a tip-in that put his team ahead 65-64 with 34 seconds left.

    Michigan State 72, Southern California 62

    Joey Hauser scored 17 points and No. 7 seed Michigan State clamped down defensively on No. 10 seed Southern California in the second half.

    Coach Tom Izzo’s Spartans (20-12) will face Marquette on Sunday for a spot in the Sweet 16.

    Tyson Walker and Jaden Akins added 12 points apiece for Michigan State, which held USC to 34% shooting in the second half.

    Joshua Morgan scored 14 and Kobe Johnson 13 to lead the Trojans (22-11), who were knocked out in the tournament’s first round for the second straight year.

    Kansas State 77, Montana State 65

    Markquis Nowell had 17 points and 14 assists and No. 3 seed Kansas State held off 14th-seeded Montana State its first NCAA Tournament win since knocking off Kentucky in 2018 to reach the Elite Eight.

    Now the two Wildcat programs will meet again in a rematch on Sunday in the second round of the NCAA Tournament at the Greensboro Coliseum. Kentucky, the sixth seed, defeated No. 11 Providence 61-53 in the earlier game.

    Nowell and fellow third-team Associated Press All-American Keyontae Johnson, who had 18 points and eight rebounds, proved too much for the Bobcats to handle.

    RaeQuan Battle had 26 points on 9 of 17 shooting for Montana State (25-10), which had its eight-game win streak snapped.

    Kansas State (24-9) led Montana State 34-28 at the break, and the Wildcats stretched the lead to 13 with 11 minutes remaining when Desi Sills scoring on a layup off an inbounds pass under his own basket after a botched defensive assignment.

    Midwest Region

    Xavier 72, Kennesaw State 67

    Jack Nunge blocked Terrell Burden’s driving attempt at a go-ahead layup in the final seconds, and Xavier dug out of a 13-point hole against surprising Kennesaw State to escape with a victory.

    Souley Boum hit four clinching free throws in the final 2.6 seconds for the third-seeded Musketeers (26-9), who ran off 15 unanswered points as part of a game-ending 24-6 run. That was enough to turn away the 14th-seeded Owls (26-9) in the program’s first-ever March Madness game.

    Xavier moves on to face Pittsburgh on Sunday in the Midwest Region.

    Xavier led 68-67 when Burden — who’d been successful all day with dribble penetration — turned into the paint past Jerome Hunter and appeared to have a path to the rim. The 7-foot Nunge moved over and swatted the ball into the backboard.

    Jerome Hunter scored 24 points to lead the Musketeers, while Boum had 17. Nunge had 10 points, 11 rebounds, two steals and two blocks.

    Burden and Chris Youngblood each scored 14 points to lead Kennesaw State.

    Pittsburgh 59, Iowa State 41

    Nelly Cummings scored 13 points and No. 11 seed Pittsburgh held sixth-seeded Iowa State to 23% shooting.

    Jamarius Burton added 11 points and Greg Elliott had 10 for coach Jeff Capel’s Panthers, who stormed to a 22-2 lead after Iowa State missed its first 11 shots. Things didn’t get much better for the Cyclones, who had three stretches in which they missed at least eight consecutive shots.

    Pitt (24-11), which edged Mississippi State in the First Four, moves on to play third-seeded Xavier on Sunday.

    Gabe Kalscheur and Jaren Holmes each had 12 points for Iowa State (19-14).

    Indiana 71, Kent State 60

    Trayce Jackson-Davis did it all with 24 points, 11 rebounds, five blocked shots and five assists as Indiana defeated 13th-seed Kent State to reach the second round of the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2016.

    The fourth-seeded Hoosiers (23-11) advanced to play fifth-seeded Miami Sunday for a trip to Kansas City for the Midwest Region semifinals.

    Jackson-Davis became the first player since blocks became an official NCAA statistic in 1985-86 to have at least 20 points, 10 rebounds, five blocks and five assists in an NCAA Tournament game, according to OptaSTATS.

    The Mid-American Conference champs from Kent State couldn't muster any such magic, shooting 32% from the field. Sincere Carry scored 15 points to lead the Golden Flashes (28-7), who had won six straight heading into tournament.

    Race Thompson matched a season high with 20 points for the Hoosiers on 8-of-11 shooting.

    The Hoosiers had a 35-27 at halftime as Thompson took advantage of a Kent State defense that was working hard to limit Jackson-Davis. Thompson scored 13 points on 5-of-6 shooting.

    Meanwhile, Jackson-Davis more than made his presence felt with 10 points, seven rebounds, four assists and three blocks, including a chase down swat of Jalen Sullinger's layup in the final seconds of the half.

    Miami 63, Drake 56

    Nijel Pack scored 21 points, including the go-ahead jumper and a pair of free throws in the final minute, and No. 5 seed Miami rallied past 12th-seeded Drake.

    The Hurricanes (26-7) scored the final 10 points. Norchad Omier added 12 points and 14 rebounds for the Hurricanes, who were held to a season low in scoring. Wooga Poplar had 15 points.

    Darnell Brodie had 20 points and nine rebounds to lead Drake (27-8). The Missouri Valley Conference tournament champions were outscored 16-1 over the final 4:29 and 10-0 in the last 2:28. The Bulldogs missed their last seven shots from the field and were scoreless the final 3:24.

    South Region

    Baylor 74, UC Santa Barbara 56

    Caleb Lohner scored a season-best 13 points in just 18 minutes, and No. 3 seed Baylor beat UC Santa Barbara.

    Adam Flagler led the Bears with 18 points, and LJ Cryer scored 11 of his 15 points in the second half.

    Baylor (23-10) overcame a one-point halftime deficit and advanced to play Creighton on Sunday.

    Miles Norris led the 14th-seeded Gauchos (27-8) with 15 points. Ajay Mitchell added 13.

    Creighton 72, North Carolina State 63

    Ryan Kalkbrenner scored a career-high 31 points and sixth-seeded Creighton overcame an abysmal 3-point shooting day to fend off No. 11 seed North Carolina State.

    The 7-foot-1 Kalkbrenner did a little bit of everything for the Bluejays, which included hitting a big 3-pointer on a day the team finished 3 of 20 from long range. Kalkbrenner had six dunks and seven rebounds, and N.C. State big men D.J. Burns Jr. and Ebenezer Dowuona were hampered by foul trouble.

    Next up for the Bluejays (22-12) is third-seeded Baylor in the second round.

    Terquavion Smith led the Wolfpack (23-11) with 32 points.

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