RALEIGH, N.C. — Michael Dixon Jr. scored 19 points and hit four free throws in the final 10 seconds to help Memphis hold off George Washington 71-66 on Friday night in the second round of the East Regional.
Joe Jackson added 15 points for the eighth-seeded Tigers (24-9). They entered the tournament having lost three of five to fall out of the national rankings, and shot 49 percent in this one but struggled to put the ninth-seeded Colonials away until the final seconds.
Isaiah Armwood scored a season-high 21 points after playing the final 12 minutes with four fouls for ninth-seeded GW (24-9), which was just 2 of 12 from 3-point range yet never fell behind by more than 10 points.
Leading scorer Maurice Creek — who averages 14 points — finished with nine on 2-of-13 shooting for GW, but he airballed a 3-pointer in the final seconds that would have tied it.
Patricio Garino added 10 points for the Colonials, who were making their first NCAA tournament appearance since 2007 and stuck around all game before making a final late push.
They had the ball down 67-64 after Jackson threw the ball away with 1:16 left.
But Creek’s jumper in the lane was short and so was Nemanja Mikic’s 3-point attempt from the right wing with less than a minute remaining.
Crawford missed a 3 for Memphis with about 30 seconds left and the rebound went out of bounds off Jackson with 26.6 seconds left.
Joe McDonald beat Crawford off the dribble for a layup to make it 67-66 with 13.6 seconds left, and the Colonials fouled Dixon with 9.6 seconds left.
Dixon — the American Athletic Conference’s sixth-man of the year — hit both free throws and the Colonials called a timeout to set up their final possession.
McDonald dribbled a few seconds off the clock before passing to Creek, whose 3-pointer with about 3 seconds left failed to draw iron.
Dixon added two more free throws with 0.4 of a second remaining for Memphis, which could never push its lead past 10. Its last big lead came on Dixon’s jumper from the corner with 9 1/2 minutes left.
Creek hit a 3-pointer — GW’s second, and last, of the game — before GW’s 1-3-1 zone forced a turnover and Garino made a layup to make it a 64-62 game with 2 1/2 minutes left.
Out of a timeout, Memphis worked the ball to Dixon — who buried an open 3-pointer from the right wing and kept his shooting hand aloft for an extra moment.
That seemed like the dagger — but the Colonials kept scrapping.
Both teams weren’t especially good behind either line on the court: Memphis was 11 of 16 from the free throw line and hit just 27 percent of its 3-point attempts, while GW was 14 of 24 from the free throw line in addition to its poor 3-point shooting.