Coming to the rescue

Published 2:54 am Friday, March 20, 2009

West Regional

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — After overcoming heartbreak and tragedy just to get to the NCAA tournament, the Matadors of Cal State-Northridge could not get past the greatest game of Roburt Sallie’s life.

Sallie, averaging 4.5 points all year for Memphis, scored 35 and the second-seeded Tigers beat the plucky Matadors 81-70 Thursday, dodging what would have been one of the biggest upsets in tournament history.

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Sallie kept Cal State-Northridge at bay during a lackluster first half for Memphis (32-3) and wound up hitting 10 of 15 3-pointers, a first-round tournament record.

The Matadors (17-14), who lost one of their top players in a traffic accident during the season and another to a burglary charge, never seemed intimidated despite being 19-point underdogs. Taking advantage of miserable shooting by most of the Tigers, Northridge led much of the second half and went up by six points with 10:08 to play.

Texas A&M 79, BYU 66

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Bryan Davis scored 21, Donald Sloan had 14 and the ninth-seeded Aggies handed the Cougars their seventh straight opening-round loss in a rematch from last year. Both teams drew the same seeds last March when A&M won 67-62.

Purdue 61,

Northern Iowa 56

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — E’Twaun Moore had 17 points and fifth-seeded Purdue held off a late charge to advance.

JaJuan Johnson added 14 points for the Boilermakers (26-9), who led by as many as 14 in the West Regional at the Rose Garden Arena before the Panthers made it interesting down the stretch.

Kwadzo Ahelegbe had 11 points for Northern Iowa (23-11), which closed to within 56-54 on Kerwin Dunham’s 3-pointer with 17.4 seconds left.

Chris Kramer made a pair of free throws before Ahelegbe missed a layup on the rim with 7.7 seconds left for Northern Iowa, and Lewis Jackson made one of two free throws on the other end for Purdue.

Ali Farokhmanesh, the Panthers’ hero in the Missouri Valley tournament title game, made a pull-up jumper with 3 seconds left for Northern Iowa, before Moore made a pair of foul shots at the other end to seal the victory.

Maryland 84, California 71

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Grievis Vasquez had 27 points and Maryland shut down the nation’s best 3-point shooting team.

Tenth-seeded Maryland (21-13) disrupted Cal with its pressure defense, rarely giving the Bears a good look from the perimeter. Vasquez controlled the offense and Dave Neal chipped in 15 points, helping the Terps advance past the first round in their ninth straight NCAA appearance.

Maryland will face No. 2 seed Memphis on Saturday.

Cal (22-11), which shot a nation-best 43 percent from 3-point range during the regular season, was 7-for-24 in this one. Theo Robertson led the Bears with 22 points and Jerome Randle had 14, but took just three shots in the second half after scoring 11 points in the first.

Washington 71, Mississippi State 58

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Quincy Pondexter scored a season-high 23 points and fourth-seeded Washington took advantage of early foul trouble to Mississippi State’s menacing Jarvis Varnado.

Jon Brockman had 14 rebounds and 10 points for the Huskies (26-8), who looked far better than the last time they played in this city, losing to Portland of the West Coast Conference to begin the season.

Barry Stewart had 11 points but was able to get off just five shots for Mississippi State (23-13), which reached the NCAAs for the sixth time in eight years by winning six consecutive games — including four in its surprising romp to the Southeastern Conference tournament title.

South Regional

North Carolina 101, Radford 58

GREENSBORO, N.C. (AP) — Tyler Hansbrough took quick care of his latest record pursuit, then helped North Carolina advance in the NCAA tournament without one of its star playmakers.

Hansbrough set the Atlantic Coast Conference career scoring mark in the opening minutes and finished with 22 points South Regional’s top seed another easy tournament opener in its home state.

Wayne Ellington had 25 points for the Tar Heels (29-4), who led the entire way and had no trouble beating the 16th-seeded Highlanders even with point guard Ty Lawson, who missed his third straight game with a toe injury.

The Heels improved to 26-1 in NCAA games played in North Carolina and advanced to face LSU on Saturday.

Amir Johnson and Joey Lynch-Flohr each scored 12 points to lead the Highlanders, whose last tournament appearance came in 1998.

LSU 75, Butler 71.

GREENSBORO, N.C. (AP) — Butler has put together quite a few upsets in recent NCAA tournaments. Marcus Thornton scored 30 points to keep LSU off that list.

Tasmin Mitchell had 14 points and Chris Johnson added 12 for the Tigers (27-7), seeded eighth in the South Regional. They shot 49 percent against one of the nation’s toughest defenses in advancing to Saturday’s second round against the North Carolina-Radford winner.

Matt Howard scored 22 points before fouling out with 35.7 seconds left, and Shelvin Mack added 18 points for No. 9 seed Butler.

The Bulldogs (26-6) made things interesting by twice pulling within three in the final minute. The last came when Willie Veasley tipped in Gordon Hayward’s missed 3 with 5.4 seconds left to make it 74-71. Johnson hit one of two free throws with 4.5 seconds left to seal it.

Michigan 62, Clemson 59

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Manny Harris scored 21 points and Michigan stymied Clemson with its 1-3-1 defense, then survived a late scare in its first NCAA tournament game in 11 years.

The Wolverines (21-13) showed little sign of nerves in their first NCAA game since a booster scandal rocked the program in the 1990s, handling — for the most part — Clemson’s frenetic press to move onto the second round.

Stu Douglass added 12 for the Wolverines, who will face Oklahoma on Saturday.

The seventh-seeded Tigers ended up shooting 32 percent, including 5-for-22 on 3-pointers. Trevor Booker led Clemson (23-9) with 18 points.

Oklahoma 82, Morgan State 54

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A dominant Blake Griffin had 28 points and 13 rebounds and survived an ugly fall that got another player ejected as Oklahoma rolled.

Griffin missed most of two games because of a concussion he sustained on Feb. 21. The second-seeded Sooners (28-5) lost those two games and four of their last six before stumbling into the NCAA tournament and .

The player of the year favorite took another hard tumble when Morgan State’s Ameer Ali flipped him over his back and on to the court in the second half after the two became entangled. Ali was immediately ejected.

Griffin stayed in the game and finished 11 of 12 from the field.

Oklahoma was never threatened by the No. 15 Bears (23-12), who were making their first NCAA appearance under third-year coach Todd Bozeman.

Gonzaga 77, Akron 64

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) —Josh Heytvelt scored 22 points — seven during a decisive late run — and the Bulldogs rallied to get past determined but ultimately overwhelmed Akron.

Micah Downs added 15 points for fourth-seeded Gonzaga (27-5), which won for the 19th time in 20 games. The Zags are in their 11th consecutive NCAA tournament, but had lost in the first round of the last two.

Getting zapped in the first round by the 13th-seeded Zips seemed possible for a while. Akron (23-13) was up six in the second half.

Nate Linhart scored 13 points in the first half, but had no field goals after halftime for the Zips, who won the Mid-American Conference tournament to get in to its first NCAA tournament in 23 years.

Gonzaga faces Western Kentucky on Saturday.

Western Kentucky 76, Illinois 72

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Western Kentucky, which made an unexpected run in the NCAA tournament last year, pulled off another first-round upset.

Steffphon Pettigrew had 17 points to lead 12th-seeded Western Kentucky (25-8), which led by as many as 17 points but had to hold off a late charge by the fifth-seeded Illini (24-10). It was the 19th time in the last 21 years that a 12 seed has beaten a No. 5.

Trent Meacham had a season-high 24 points for the Illini, who were without senior defensive specialist Chester Frazier, who had surgery on his right hand last week.

East Regional

Texas 76, Minnesota 62

GREENSBORO, N.C. (AP) — A.J. Abrams hit eight 3-pointers and scored 26 points to help Texas win its NCAA opener for the fifth time in six seasons.

Damion James added 18 points and nine rebounds for the seventh-seeded Longhorns (23-11).

Texas had lost seven of its last 14 games dating to late January, but now heads into the second round of the East Region to face the Duke-Binghamton winner Saturday.

Lawrence Westbrook scored 19 points for the 10th-seeded Golden Gophers (22-11), who were making their first tournament appearance since 2005. It was also Minnesota’s first NCAA bid under Tubby Smith, who left Kentucky two seasons ago to rebuild the struggling Big Ten program.

Duke 86, Binghamton 62

GREENSBORO, N.C. (AP) — Jon Scheyer scored 15 points to lead six players in double figures, and the Blue Devils made Binghamton’s first appearance in the NCAA tournament a quick one.

Lance Thomas added 14 points and Gerald Henderson and Nolan Smith added 13 apiece for the Blue Devils (29-6), the No. 2 seed. They shot 49 percent, put the game away with a huge run to open the second half and advanced to a second-round matchup with seventh-seeded Texas on Saturday.

D.J. Rivera scored 20 points for Binghamton (23-9). The program from upstate New York that jumped to Division I in 2001 and won the America East tournament ultimately was no match for one of the NCAA’s most decorated programs.

Villanova 80, American 67

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Dwayne Anderson and Dante Cunningham each scored 25 points, and Villanova rallied back from a 14-point hole.

The third-seeded Wildcats (27-7) lost their home-court advantage and nearly lost the game, needing a late 19-2 run in the East Regional to fend off the Patriot League champions.

The 14th-seeded Eagles (24-8) sizzled from 3-point range early and pushed Villanova to the brink of a monumental upset.

The loss ended the Eagles’ 13-game winning streak, the second-longest in the country. Garrison Carr scored 22 points for American.

The Wildcats play UCLA on Saturday.

UCLA 65, VCU 64

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Darren Collison pressured VCU’s Eric Maynor into missed 17-foot jumper at the buzzer and the sixth-seeded Bruins held on to beat the Rams.

Josh Shipp scored 16, Jrue Holiday had 13 and three other Bruins (26-8) scored in double figures.

Maynor led Virginia Commonwealth with 21 points. The Rams (24-10) from the Colonial Athletic Association were a popular pick to pull off a 6-11 upset against the Pac-10 powerhouse — even President Barack Obama circled VCU in his bracket.

But UCLA wasn’t ready to go home.

Maynor, whose last-second shot knocked out Duke in the first round two seasons ago, got the ball and was closely guarded Collison. Maynor couldn’t get a clean look and his shot grazed the front of the rim.