Bracket buster: Florida Gulf Coast pulls off stunner
PHILADELPHIA – Florida Gulf Coast sure made an entrance at the NCAA tournament.
A school that hasn’t even celebrated its first 20-year reunion yet, and is in just its second season of being eligible for Division I postseason, busted a load of brackets with a 78-68 victory over second-seeded Georgetown Friday night in the second round of the South Regional.
The Eagles used a 21-2 run in the second half to pull away from the Hoyas and then held on in the final minute to become the seventh No. 15 seed to beat a No. 2.
Sherwood Brown scored 24 points and Bernard Thompson had 23 to lead Florida Gulf Coast (25-10), the champions of the Atlantic Sun Conference
A night after America’s oldest university, Harvard, pulled off a major upset over fourth-seeded New Mexico, one of its youngest – FGCU’s first student was admitted in 1997 – got one that was even bigger.
The Eagles’ big run gave them a 52-33 lead with 12:28 to play. The Hoyas staged a furious rally to get within 72-68 with 52 seconds left but the Eagles went 6 of 10 from the free throw line to seal it.
“In the second half, we pushed the ball, we got out, we ran, we made shots, got some alley-oop dunks to energize the crowd. I’m very proud of our players,” said coach Andy Enfield, whose wife – supermodel Amanda Marcum – was shown several times on the arena’s big screen.
For those who don’t know FCGU, and that was probably plenty of people as of Friday afternoon, Florida Gulf Coast is a state university in Fort Myers with an enrollment of about 12,000 students.
It was another disappointing NCAA exit for the Hoyas (25-7), who have lost to a double-digit seed in their last four appearances. The last time they made it to the second weekend of the tournament was in 2007, when they reached the Final Four.
Markel Starks had 23 points for the Hoyas, a tri-champion of the Big East regular season.
Indiana 83, James Madison 62: Freshman Yogi Ferrell scored 14 points in the first six minutes as top-seeded Indiana slam dunked its way past James Madison.
Not taking any chances with a No. 16 seed, the Hoosiers (28-6) started fast and built a 33-point lead in the second half over the Dukes (21-15) and opened the tourney with a statement they intend to be around for a while.
Temple 76, N.C. State 72: Khalif Wyatt scored 31 points, finishing the game with an injured left thumb that had him grimacing before his clinching free throws, and Temple broke with its one-and-done NCAA tournament trend.
The ninth-seeded Owls (24-9) opened a 17-point lead before Wyatt – the Atlantic 10’s player of the year and top scorer – hurt his left thumb and left the game briefly, returning with black tape on the non-shooting hand.
Miami, Fla. 78, Pacific 49: Durand Scott had 21 points and Miami had a triumphant return to the NCAA tournament.
The Hurricanes (28-6), who may be even better than their No. 2 seed in the East Regional would indicate, put the game out of reach with a 14-0 run midway through the first half of their first NCAA tourney game in five years.
Illinois 57, Colorado 49: Brandon Paul and D.J. Richardson made consecutive 3-pointers to give Illinois back the lead with six minutes left and the seventh-seeded Illini pulled out a tough win over Colorado.
Illinois led by 16 at halftime only to watch Colorado rip off a 21-2 run in the second to grab the lead. The Illini looked desperate until Paul and Richardson coolly knocked down their shots to put Illinois ahead 48-44.
Duke 73, Albany 61: Seth Curry scored 26 points, Mason Plumlee had 23 and second-seeded Duke beat Albany.
The Blue Devils (28-5), who lost to 15th-seeded Lehigh in the second round last year, never really pulled away from the Great Danes (24-11), who got as close as eight points with 4:40 to play.
Creighton 67, Cincinnati 63: Doug McDermott had 27 points and 11 rebounds, and Gregory Echenique scored 13 points to help Creighton hold on.
Ethan Wragge added 12 for the Bluejays, who won their NCAA tournament opener for the second straight year.
Mississippi 57, Wisconsin 46: Marshall Henderson shook out of a shooting slump and scored 17 points in the second half, giving the Rebels their first NCAA tournament win since 2002.
For the cold-shooting Badgers (23-12), the upset loss snaps a string of six straight first-game victories. Ole Miss (27-8) trailed 25-22 at halftime and Henderson, who led the SEC with 20 points a game, had only two points on 1-for-11 shooting.
La Salle 63, Kansas State 61: Jerrell Wright made three foul shots in the final 30 seconds, and No. 13 seed La Salle advanced after blowing an 18-point halftime lead to beat fourth-seeded Kansas State.
Wright, who scored a game-high 21 points for the Explorers (22-9), made the first two free throws to give La Salle a 62-61 lead. Kansas State’s Jordan Henriquez missed in the paint at the other end, and Wright made the first of two more free throws with 9.6 seconds to go.
Ohio State 95, Iona 70: Sam Thompson had career highs with 20 points and 10 rebound, part of a dominating performance by Ohio State’s front line, and the Buckeyes ran away to a victory over Iona.
North Carolina 78, Villanova 71: P.J. Hairston scored 23 points, James Michael McAdoo added 17 and North Carolina unleashed a flurry of 3-pointers to subdue gritty Villanova, giving coach Roy Williams his 700th career victory.
Florida 79, Northwestern State 47: Erik Murphy had 18 points to lead four Florida players in double figures and the Gators shut down the NCAA’s highest-scoring team, beating Northwestern State 79-47.