Darnell Edge scored a career-high 33 points, and Fairleigh Dickinson rallied to win its first ever NCAA tournament game, taking down Prairie View A&M 82-76 in the tourney opener on Tuesday night.
Edge was 7 for 9 from beyond the 3-point line, and Jahil Jenkins scored 20 of his 22 points in the second half for the Knights (21-13), who advanced out of the First Four to play No. 1 seed Gonzaga on Thursday in Salt Lake City.
Prairie View (22-13), also seeking its first tournament win, built up 13-point leads in both halves, but Fairleigh Dickinson took control in the second half behind the shooting of Edge and Jenkins.
A 3-pointer by Gary Blackson pulled Prairie View back to within two points, 78-76, but a layup from Mike Holloway Jr. and a pair of free throws by Edge with 17 seconds left sealed it for Fairleigh Dickinson.
Blackson led the Panthers with 26 points and Devonte Patterson had 17.
Prairie View threatened to run away with it early, ripping off a 14-0 first-half run as Fairleigh Dickinson committed nine turnovers in the first 10 minutes to fall into a 19-6 hole. The Knights chipped away, with Edge hitting a 3-pointer and a layup in the last minute of the half to reduce the deficit to 41-34 at the intermission.
Temple and Belmont play in the second game of today’s First Four game.
Belmont 81, Temple 70
Kevin McClain scored 29 points and led the decisive second-half run as Belmont got its first NCAA Tournament win, pulling away to an 81-70 victory Tuesday night and ending Temple coach Fran Dunphy’s career in the First Four.
The 11th-seeded Bruins (27-5) play Maryland on Thursday in the East Region.
Belmont got at-large bid after losing to Murray State in the Ohio Valley Conference Tournament title game. The Bruins showed that the selection committee’s faith was not misplaced, getting the breakthrough win on their eighth try.
The loss sent Temple (23-10) into a transition at the top. Dunphy is retiring after his 13th season at Temple, where he replaced John Chaney. Dunphy previously coached 17 seasons at Penn.
He was hoping to coach another day, but Belmont’s high-scoring offense pulled away at the end. Senior guard Shizz Alston Jr. led the Owls with 21 points.
The Bruins entered the tournament second in the nation at 87.4 points per game. The Owls’ aim was to slow the high-percentage offense just enough to give themselves a chance. Temple hung in during a first half that featured five lead changes and ended with Belmont ahead 37-31.
The Bruins pushed their lead to 11 points by hitting their first two shots in the second half. Alston, who led the American Athletic Conference at 19.7 points per game, hit three 3-pointers as the Owls surged ahead 50-46. Alston has been the Owls’ catalyst, scoring at least 20 points in each of his last nine games.
McClain led a 16-3 run that put Belmont ahead to stay, and Belmont pushed the lead to 12 while closing it out. McClain finished two points shy of his career high.
The Bruins’ balanced offense had more than enough even though leading scorer Dylan Windler was held to five points on 2-of-7 shooting. Windler came in averaging 21.4 points.
Wednesday’s NCAA Division I basketball tournament First Four games, at Dayton (TV: TruTV):
North Carolina Central (18-15) vs. North Dakota State (18-15), 3:30 p.m.
St. John’s (21-12) vs. Arizona State (22-10), 6 p.m.
In other tournaments:
CBI: Utah Valley State 92, Cal State Northridge 84
Jake Toolson had 21 points as Utah Valley beat Cal State Northridge 92-84 in the first round of the College Basketball Invitational on Tuesday night.
Baylee Steele had 19 points for Utah Valley (25-9). Richard Harward added 15 points. Isaiah White had 15 points for the hosts.
Lamine Diane had 27 points for the Matadors (13-21). Terrell Gomez added 22 points. Elijah Harkless had 13 points.