NCAA tournament First Four: North Dakota State holds off NC Central; Arizona State beats St. John’s

North Carolina Central v North Dakota State
North Dakota State’s Vinnie Shahid (0) drives to the basket during the second half against North Carolina Central in the First Four of the NCAA tournament on Wednesday in Dayton, Ohio.
(Joe Robbins / Getty Images)

Tyson Ward scored 23 points, and North Dakota State advanced to the NCAA Tournament round of 64 with a 78-74 win over North Carolina Central in a First Four game on Wednesday night.

Vinnie Shahid had 14 points, including a pair of foul shots with 8 seconds left to seal the game for North Dakota State (19-15), which advances to play East Region No. 1 seed Duke on Friday in Columbia, South Carolina.

Sam Griesel and Jared Samuelson each added 10 points for the Summit League Tournament winners. The Bison picked up their second NCAA Tournament win after upsetting Oklahoma in the opening round in 2014.

N.C. Central (18-16) squandered an outstanding night by senior center Raasean Davis, who scored 20 points and pulled down 16 rebounds — the 16th double-double of his career. Larry McKnight Jr. also had 20 points and Randy Miller Jr. scored 18 for the Eagles, who lost a First Four game for the third consecutive year.


The Bison held a 40-34 lead at the half on the strength of seven 3-pointers in 14 attempts and 58-percent shooting overall. Five North Dakota State had hit long shots before the intermission, with Samuelson going 3 for 4.

Arizona State 74, St. John’s 65

Luguentz Dort overcame a hard foul and a leg injury, scored 21 points and led Arizona State to a long-awaited NCAA Tournament victory Wednesday night, 74-65 over St. John’s in the First Four.

The 11th-seeded Sun Devils (23-10) will play Mid-American Conference champion Buffalo on Friday in the West Region, coming off their first NCAA Tournament win in 10 years.

Arizona State also provided a Pac-12 breakthrough: the conference’s first NCAA Tournament win in two years.


The Pac-12 was 0-3 in the tournament last season, with two teams — Arizona State and UCLA — falling in the First Four. Arizona then got knocked out in the round of 64.

The Pac-12 got three teams in again this year, with Oregon and Washington joining the Sun Devils.

St. John’s (21-13) was the last team picked for the tournament, sneaking in despite a late-season fade. The Red Storm wound up one of the first ones out as well.

Shamorie Ponds scored 25 points for St. John’s, which hasn’t won an NCAA Tournament game since 2000. The Red Storm never led on Wednesday.

Arizona State’s physical defense brought the Red Storm to a halt. St. John’s missed 17 of its first 23 shots as the Sun Devils built an 18-point lead . A technical foul on coach Bobby Hurley as he argued over a blocking foul with 25 seconds left in the half helped St. John’s trim the deficit to 38-25.

Ponds had a steal and dunk as St. John’s cut the lead to 40-33 early in the second half while Dort was on the bench getting his lower right leg treated. The freshman guard landed hard after extending for a rebound and getting fouled. Mustapha Heron was called for a flagrant foul.

Dort returned and hit a pair of free throws and a layup that blunted St. John’s comeback. His fast-break layup rebuilt the lead to 16 points.

Ponds hit a 3-pointer as St. John’s made a final surge, cutting it to 62-55 with 3:58 left. Dort made a pair of free throws that helped finish it off.



All times Pacific, with TV (*approximate time; game will start 30 minutes after the completion of the previous one):


at Des Moines, Iowa

7 Louisville (20-13) vs. 10 Minnesota (21-13), Channel 2, 9:15 a.m.

2 Michigan State (28-6) vs. 15 Bradley (20-14), Channel 2*, 11:45 a.m.

at Jacksonville, Fla.

3 Louisiana State (26-6) vs. 14 Yale (22-7), TruTV, 9:30 a.m.


6 Maryland (22-10) vs. 11 Belmont (27-5), TruTV*, Noon


at Hartford, Conn.

6 Villanova (25-9) vs. 11 St. Mary’s (22-11), TBS, 4:15 p.m.

3 Purdue (23-9) vs. 14 Old Dominion (26-8), TBS*, 6:45 p.m.


at Salt Lake City

5 Auburn (26-9) vs. 12 New Mexico State (30-4), TNT, 10:30 a.m.

4 Kansas (25-9) vs. 13 Northeastern (23-10), TNT*, 1 p.m.

at Jacksonville, Fla.

2 Kentucky (27-6) vs. 15 Abilene Christian (27-6), Channel 2, 4 p.m.

7 Wofford (29-4) vs. 10 Seton Hall (20-13), Channel 2*, 6:30 p.m.


at Hartford, Conn.

4 Florida State (27-7) vs. 13 Vermont (27-6), TBS, 11 a.m.

5 Marquette (24-9) vs. 12 Murray State (27-4), TBS*, 1:30 p.m.

at Des Moines, Iowa

7 Nevada (29-4) vs. 10 Florida (19-15), TNT, 3:45 p.m.

2 Michigan (28-6) vs. 15 Montana (26-8), TNT*, 6:15 p.m.

at Salt Lake City

1 Gonzaga (30-3) vs. 16 Fairleigh Dickinson (21-13), TruTV, 4:15 p.m.

8 Syracuse (20-13) vs. 9 Baylor (19-13), TruTV*, 6:45 p.m.

In other tournaments:

CBI: Loyola Marymount 56, Cal Baptist 55

Mattias Markusson had 13 points, including a 3-point play with 31 seconds to go, as Loyola Marymount narrowly defeated California Baptist 56-55 in the first round of the College Basketball Invitational on Wednesday night.

Dameane Douglas had 10 points for Loyola Marymount (21-11). Eli Scott added 10 points.

Jordan Heading had 13 points for the Lancers (16-15). Milan Acquaah added 13 points. Jeremy Smith had 11 points.