The NCAA tournament had quite a few tremendous games on Thursday night. Four of the games went into overtime during the night session, and the action was intense all over the country. Some of the favorites lost, while others came back from second half deficits to pull out improbably victories.
Between the buzzer beaters, game tying three point shots, and the missed foul shots, the night session provided as much drama as any primetime slot on CBS.
Don’t let the final score fool you. The Cardinals were down by three points with 3:56 left in the game. The Jaspers had just turned the ball over and missed an opportunity to choke the life out of Louisville. That fresh breath was all that Louisville needed to dominate late.
Russ Smith hit a pull up three to tie the score at 58. After a driving layup by Manhattan’s Tyler Wilson, Louisville used a seven point run to swing the game in their favor. Wayne Blackshear hit a jump shot to tie it at 60. Then Luke Hancock took the game over.
With the game tied, Hancock stole the ball in the backcourt and was fouled. He promptly made both foul shots. On the next possession, Hancock hit a three to put Louisville up by five. After a Manhattan score, Luke Hancock hit another three point shot to put Louisville up 68-62.
Texas 87- Arizona State 85
Texas escaped with a two point victory over Arizona State in dramatic fashion. Cameron Ridley grabbed his 12th rebound on the floor just before the final buzzer. His quick reaction to get the ball released over the out stretched arms of Jordan Bachynski was more impressive than making the shot.
Saint Louis 83- North Carolina State 80
The Wolfpack had a 16 point second half lead and they were cruising to their second victory in the NCAA tournament. However, Saint Louis decided to press, foul and turn this game into a charity stripe contest. North Carolina State obliged by missing 17 foul shots. The Billikens weren’t much better from the foul line, but they made enough plays to earn the victory.
North Dakota State 80- Oklahoma 75
The Bison were a trendy pick when the brackets came out on Sunday. It was looking like a foregone conclusion when North Dakota State has a 10 point second half lead. However, Oklahoma came roaring back with phenomenal shooting. Still, the Bison didn’t flinch when they lost the lead. Lawrence Alexander hit the game tying three, and Oklahoma missed three shots before the regulation buzzer. North Dakota State will face San Diego State in the third round.
San Diego State 73- New Mexico State 69
The Aztecs jumped out to a 12 point halftime lead, but poor foul shooting and a terrible turnover gave the Aggies a chance to send the game into overtime. After Xavier Thames bobbled the in bounds pass, Kevin Aronis had two attempts from three point range to earn an extra five minutes. Still, San Diego State was too strong in OT.
Michigan 57- Wofford 40
Michigan used dominant defense to jump out to a 14 point halftime lead. The Wolverines kept Wofford from making any significant run in the second half. Michigan plays Texas in the round of 32.
Connecticut 89- St. Joes 81
Connecticut needed a rebound, put back, and a foul just to tie the game in the final seconds. Still, the Huskies used a defensive stop to help send the game into overtime. St. Joes dominated this game throughout, yet couldn’t finish the deal. In overtime, the Hawks never had a chance.
Villanova 73- Milwakee 53
The Villanova Wildcats turned a four point halftime lead into a 20 point victory. Darrun Hilliard led Villanova with 16 points. The Wildcats will play a familiar foe in the next round. They face former Big East nemesis, Connecticut.
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