NCAA tournament, Midwest Regional: Washington beats Utah State; North Carolina overcomes slow first half to beat Iona
Noah Dickerson had 20 points and 12 rebounds, and ninth-seeded Washington made a successful return to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in eight years, beating Utah State 78-61 on Friday.
The Pac-12’s regular season champions swept the league’s awards — top player, best defensive player and coach of the year — and got something from all of them against one of the hottest teams in March.
Eighth-seeded Utah State (28-7) had won 10 in a row and 17 of 18 while taking the Mountain West title. The Aggies got the highest seed in school history and were trying to end their own long NCAA Tournament drought. They haven’t won since 2002, dropping eight in a row — including 2006 against the Huskies.
Washington (27-8) got enough from its top players.
Jaylen Nowell, the Pac-12 player of the year, had 19 points and five assists. Top defender Matisse Thybulle helped the Huskies surge ahead to stay late in the first half but was limited by foul trouble the rest of the way. He finished with 10 points, five steals and three blocks.
Coach of the year Mike Hopkins got a $17.5 million extension through 2025 on the eve of the game, and then led the Huskies to their long-awaited win.
Brock Miller had 13 points for Utah State.
Thybulle helped the Huskies build the game’s first significant lead. He hit a 3-pointer and had a steal and layup during a 13-3 run that ended the first half and put Washington ahead 40-28. Thybulle also had an emphatic block on Abel Porter’s jumper from the perimeter.
The Huskies pushed the lead to 13 points early in the second half before Thybulle went to the bench with his third foul. Utah State cut it to 54-53 on Sam Merrill’s 3-pointer, but Nahziah Carter hit back-to-back 3s that blunted the comeback. Washington was never seriously threatened down the stretch.
No. 1 North Carolina 88, Iona 73: North Carolina completed a perfect first round for top seeds in this NCAA Tournament, but not before Iona became the latest No. 16 seed to show these matchups are no sure thing.
Cameron Johnson scored 21 points, and North Carolina quickly erased a five-point halftime deficit to hot-shooting Iona, going on to win 88-73 on Friday night.
The Tar Heels (28-6), who came into the tournament as a top seed for a record 17th time, advanced to play Washington in the second round of the Midwest Region on Sunday. They’re hoping to reach their 11th Final Four.
Much like Gardner-Webb did earlier Friday against No. 1 seed Virginia — which last year became the first top seed to lose in the first round — Iona surprised the Tar Heels early with their energy and outside shooting. Ricky McGill made all four of his 3-point attempts in the opening half as the Gaels (17-16) led by as many as eight and took a 38-33 lead into halftime.
Iona’s advantage disappeared quickly. Johnson’s 3-pointer and Luke Maye’s jumper tied it 39 seconds into the second half, and an 18-4 run put North Carolina back on track.
The bigger and stronger Tar Heels dominated the boards, outrebounding Iona 52-26 and getting 25 second-chance points. After shooting 44.3 percent the first half, they hit 63 percent in the second and led by as many as 20 points.
McGill finished with 26 points, including 7-for-9 shooting from beyond the arc for the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference champion Gaels, who are one-and-done in the tournament for the fourth straight season. They’re still seeking their first NCAA win after 13 trips.
Asante Gist had 17 points and Andrija Ristanovic scored 11 for Iona.
Nassir Little added 19 points for UNC.
No. 3 Houston, No. 14 Georgia State: It’s beginning to look like old times for Houston in the NCAA Tournament.
Corey Davis scored 26 points to help the third-seeded Cougars beat Georgia State 84-55 in the Midwest Region on Friday night.
After reaching the national final in 1984, Houston went more than three decades without winning an NCAA Tournament game. Now, the Cougars have tourney wins in back-to-back seasons and are starting to resemble the program that has five Final Four appearances and produced stars including Elvin Hayes, Clyde Drexler and Hakeem Olajuwon.
Fabian White had 14 points and 11 rebounds and Breaon Brady added 13 for Houston (32-3), which will face either Iowa State or Ohio State on Sunday.
Houston rolled out to a 15-3 lead in the first five minutes, and the rout was on. The Cougars shot 52 percent to lead 40-31 at halftime, and then opened the second half on a 10-2 run to put the game out of reach.
D’Marcus Simonds scored 18 points for No. 14 seed Georgia State (24-10), which received an automatic bid as the Sun Belt Conference Tournament champion.
Houston held the Panthers to 30-percent shooting, an impressive effort against a squad that entered averaging 75 points per game.
No. 11 Ohio State 62, No. 6 Iowa State 59: Ohio State went from barely making the NCAA Tournament to a spot in the second round with a 62-59 upset of sixth-seeded Iowa State in the Midwest Region on Friday night.
Kaleb Wesson had 21 points and 12 rebounds to lead the 11th-seeded Buckeyes (20-14).
Keyshawn Woods added 19 points for Ohio State, which will play No. 3 seed Houston on Sunday for a spot in the round of 16. Musa Jallow added 11 points for Ohio State.
Iowa State (23-12) led just once in the second half but had a chance to send the game into overtime when Nick Weiler-Babb had an open attempt at a game-tying 3. His shot missed and ended the season for the Cyclones, who won the Big 12 Tournament to earn a spot in the NCAAs.
Marial Shayok scored 23 points and Lindell Wigginton added 14 for Iowa State.
Ohio State led 26-24 at halftime and started to gain momentum in the early minutes of the second half. Woods threw up a lob to Jallow for a dunk that put the Buckeyes up 38-32 with 14 minutes to play.
Iowa State caught a much-needed break when Wigginton was fouled on a 3-pointer. He made the free throw to cut Ohio State’s lead to 44-42. Shayok’s mid-range jumper finally put Iowa State up 54-53, but Ohio State answered quickly. Woods’ corner three put the Buckeyes up 58-54.
Wesson missed a free throw with Ohio State up three and 10 seconds remaining to set up the final sequence.
SATURDAY’S REGIONAL GAMES
All times Pacific, with TV (*approximate time; game will start 30 minutes after the completion of the previous one):
at Salt Lake City
4 Kansas (26-9) vs. 5 Auburn (27-9), TBS*, 6:30 p.m.
at Jacksonville, Fla.
2 Kentucky (28-6) vs. 7 Wofford (30-4), Channel 2*, 11:30 a.m.
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