NCAA tournament, East Regional: Maryland avoids upset by Belmont; Big Ten teams 3-0
Maryland survived a last-second upset bid at the NCAA tournament when Eric Ayala deflected a pass, leading to a steal by Darryl Morsell that allowed the sixth-seeded Terrapins to escape with a 79-77 victory over No. 11 Belmont in a first-round game of the East Region at Jacksonville, Fla.
Playing their second tournament game in less than 48 hours, Belmont shook off weary legs to justify the selection committee giving them one of the final at-large bids.
“If not for one little deflection,” said Rick Byrd, Belmont’s 805-win coach, “I think we’d be playing Saturday afternoon.”
Instead, it was Maryland (23-10) advancing to face LSU in the second round.
“Is my heart rate like I’m sleeping? No!” Terrapins coach Mark Turgeon said. “I just love it. So much fun.”
Dylan Windler scored 35 points to give Belmont (26-6) a chance, making seven three-pointers with his Harden-like step back beyond the arc.
Jalen Smith led four Maryland players in double figures with 19 points, including a huge three-point play with 1:41 left. Belmont appeared to get a crucial stop when Nick Muszynski swatted away a shot by Bruno Fernando, setting off a wild scramble that left four players — three from Belmont, one from Maryland — sprawled on the floor.
Morsell came up with the loose ball and fed it to Smith under the basket for a thunderous dunk that also drew a foul. Smith knocked down the free throw, giving the Terps a 77-73 lead.
No. 2 Michigan State 76, No. 15 Bradley 65: Cassius Winston scored 26 points and the Spartans held off the Braves in Des Moines, Iowa.
Xavier Tillman had 16 points with 11 boards for the Spartans (29-6), who’ll face Big Ten rival, 10th-seeded Minnesota, on Saturday in search of their first trip to the Sweet Sixteen in four years. Michigan State throttled the Gophers 79-55 in East Lansing back on Feb. 9.
Bradley gave the Big Ten champions all they could handle, though.
It was a one-possession game until Matt McQuaid drilled a crucial 3 to put Michigan State ahead 61-55 with 3:31 left. Aaron Henry followed with a layup to cap a 9-0 run, but Darrell Brown made a three-pointer for Bradley to make it 65-60.
The Spartans iced the game at the line, where they hit their first 20 and finished 25 of 26.
Bradley (20-15) surged to a 35-34 halftime lead by shooting 6 of 9 from three-point range. The Spartans made some of their own luck early in the second half, reeling off 10 straight points in less than two minutes to seize control. Bradley answered with eight straight of its own though to retake the lead, 51-50.
Elijah Childs scored 19 points and Brown had 17 for the Braves, who made just 3 of 12 shots from beyond the arc in the second half.
No. 10 Minnesota 86, No. 7 Louisville 76: The Gophers won their first NCAA tournament game in six years behind 24 points from freshman Gale Kalscheur at Des Moines.
It was the first tournament win in Richard Pitino’s six seasons coaching the Gophers and came against the school that fired his father, Rick Pitino, in 2017.
Jordan Murphy and Amir Coffey each had 18 points for Minnesota (22-13), which knocked down 11 three-pointers despite entering play ranked 344th nationally in made three-pointers per game.
Christen Cunningham led Louisville (20-14) with 22 points, and Steven Enoch added 14.
No. 3 Louisiana State 79, No. 14 Yale 74: Skylar Mays made four free throws in the final 15 seconds to help the Tigers slip past the Bulldogs in Jacksonville. Mays scored 19 points and sealed the game from the charity stripe as the Tigers (27-6) needed each one of his free throws.
Yale (22-8) made four three-pointers in the final minute and whittled an 18-point deficit to three in the closing seconds. With the lead on the line, Mays calmly stepped to the line and sank all his free throws.
Mays was one of four Tigers in double figures. Tremont Waters finished with 15 points, but had just two after the break. He was 0 for 7 from the field in the final 20 minutes after dominating the first half with 13 points and six assists.
Naz Reid had 14 points and 10 rebounds. Kavell Bigby-Williams also had a double-double with 10 points and 10 boards.
Alex Copeland led Yale with 24 points. Jordan Bruner added 16 and Azar Swain finished with 12. Leading scorer Miye Oni was two-of-16 shooting from the field, including one of 10 from three-point range, to finish with five points.
All times Pacific, with TV (*approximate time; game will start 30 minutes after the completion of the previous one):
at Columbia, S.C.
1 Duke (29-5) vs. 16 North Dakota State (19-15), Channel 2, 4 p.m.
8 Va. Commonwealth (25-7) vs. 9 Central Florida (23-8), Channel 2*, 6:30 p.m.
at San Jose
5 Mississippi State (23-10) vs. 12 Liberty (28-6), TruTV, 4:15 p.m.
4 Virginia Tech (24-8) vs. 13 Saint Louis (23-12), TruTV*, 6:45 p.m.
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