Iowa coach Tom Davis is now 9-0 in first round NCAA tournament games. His team did it the hard way Friday night.
Russ Millard made two free throws with three seconds remaining and the third-seeded Hawkeyes overcame a 17-point deficit in the second half to defeat 11th-seeded George Washington 81-79 in the West Regional.
“It doesn’t get any better than that. It has to go down as one of our greatest comebacks ever,” said Davis, now 7-0 at Iowa in first-round play after going 2-0 at Boston College.
“We couldn’t get anything going for awhile there, but we didn’t give up,” he said. “We found a way to get back.”
The victory put 21st-ranked Iowa (23-8) into Sunday’s second round. But that didn’t look possible when the Hawkeyes trailed George Washington (21-8), 73-56, with 8:21 remaining and 75-62 with 5:15 left.
Jess Settles and Millard sparked a 17-2 run and Iowa took a 79-77 lead on Andre Woolridge’s 15-foot jumper with 1:16 to play. The Colonials tied it on two free throws by Vaughn Jones with 42.6 seconds left.
Millard rebounded Woolridge’s missed baseline jumper and called time with 5.9 seconds left. He then took an inbounds pass and was fouled driving to the basket before making his game-winning free throws to cap a 20-point night.
“I was standing there thinking, ‘This is what every player dreams about.’ I was feeling confident,” Millard said. “To get up there and knock them down was great.”
Shawnta Rogers’ last-second jumper bounced off the glass for George Washington, which was the only team to defeat top-ranked Massachusetts in the regular season.
Settles finished with 21 points, and Kenyon Murray and Chris Kingsbury added 14 apiece for Iowa. Kwame Evans led the Colonials with 24 points, 15 in the second half.
Arizona 90, Valparaiso 51--There was no first-round collapse for the Wildcats this time, only an effortless blowout of a jittery team making its tournament debut.
Arizona, upset in the first round three times in the previous four years, was prancing and celebrating midway through the first half.
Michael Dickerson had 22 points and Miles Simon had 18 in what turned into a layup drill at times for Arizona.
Bryce Drew had 19 points for Valparaiso, but smothering defense in the first half by Reggie Geary prevented Drew from getting the Crusader offense into any rhythm.
Arizona led by as many as 45 points in the second half.
Santa Clara 91, Maryland 79--Steve Nash had 28 points and 12 assists and foiled Maryland’s pressure defense with his dribbling.
By breaking through the press, Nash allowed the 10th-seeded Broncos to get into their beloved half-court offense and his passing and three-point shooting kept Santa Clara in control.
“It wasn’t that easy. It took me a while,” said Nash, who struggled for a few minutes before solving the press. “Once you break that first trap, it’s open sailing.”
Marlon Garnett added 18 points for Santa Clara (20-8), which broke open a close game with a 14-0 run midway through the second half. The Broncos built their lead to as many as 16 points after that.
Johnny Rhodes had 27 points for Maryland (17-13), which missed 10 of its 18 free throws in the second half.
Kansas 92, South Carolina State 54--The Jayhawks (27-4) won their 11th first-round game in a row by hammering the smaller Bulldogs inside and shooting them down from the outside from the start. Jerod Haase opened up with three quick three-point baskets en route to a game-high 17 points.
The Bulldogs (22-8) wanted to keep the score down, and they did, though only on their side.
“They hit five of their first seven shots for three-pointers and we got down,” South Carolina State Coach Cyrus Alexander said. “We panicked and rushed our shots. And before you knew it, it was a 20-point lead.”