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NCAA Tournament Roundup: Inexplicable foul gives Northwestern 68-66 victory over Vanderbilt

Associated Press Published: March 17, 2017 4:00 AM
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SALT LAKE CITY -- At Northwestern, the party goes on.

At Vanderbilt, there is only one question: What was he thinking?

Northwestern's first-ever NCAA Tournament victory, 68-66 over Vanderbilt, came after Commodores guard Matthew Fisher-Davis inexplicably grabbed Bryant McIntosh of the Wildcats on purpose, sending McIntosh to the free throw line for the go-ahead points with 14.6 seconds left.

"I actually thought we were down one," Fisher-Davis explained after Thursday's heartbreaker in the West region. "Coach ... pointed at him, but he was just telling me that was my matchup. I took it as (I should) foul."

And though Fisher-Davis scored 14 of his 22 points in the second half to help ninth-seeded Vandy (19-16) rally from 15 points down, his mistake was the main takeaway from this game -- maybe not as bad as Chris Webber calling a timeout that Michigan didn't have or Georgetown's Fred Brown throwing the pass to James Worthy of North Carolina in the final, but certainly not one for the "One Shining Moment" video, either.

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"An honest mistake," Northwestern coach Chris Collins called it. "You feel bad for players. He was tremendous today. Certainly, I was surprised."

The sequence was set up after Riley LaChance made a layup with 17.8 seconds remaining to put the Commodores up by one.

But seconds after the in-bounds pass, Fisher-Davis reached out and grabbed McIntosh around the waist while the Northwestern guard was dribbling up the backcourt. That put eighth-seeded Northwestern in the double bonus, and McIntosh went to the line and calmly swished the free throws with 14.6 seconds left for a 67-66 lead.

"When he grabbed me, I had thought we were down one, and I'm thinking maybe I made a mistake," he said. "I had to put my mind on making the free throws at the end."

Northwestern forced LaChance to miss a 3 on the next possession and the Wildcats made (24-11) another free throw.

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Fisher-Davis heaved a desperation shot at the buzzer, but it missed, and he sunk his head and reached down to his shoes in despair before heading to the sideline where his teammates hugged him.

While the Wildcats doused Collins with water to celebrate a win that extends the program's first trip to March Madness by at least one more game, there were red eyes in the Vanderbilt locker room. But Fisher-Davis' teammates had his back.

"He's the type of person (who's going to) feel some blame," forward Luke Kornet said. "But in the second half, we have no chance if he doesn't make the shots that he made. We're with him no matter what."

Coach Bryce Drew, who enjoyed a much different moment decades ago as a player , said certainly he and his star guard would talk more in the near future. His message in the aftermath was simple: "From Day 1, we teach our guys that we're a team and one play at the end ... doesn't win or lose the game."

Fisher-Davis, a junior who led the SEC in 3-point shooting last season, tried to keep it in perspective.

"We all love each other like brothers," he said. "They know I didn't do that on purpose, obviously. We had a great season. Nothing to be ashamed of."

WEST REGION

XAVIER 76, MARYLAND 65

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Trevon Bluiett scored 21 points and Sean O'Mara had 18 to help No. 11 seed Xavier upset sixth-seeded Maryland 76-65 during the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

The Musketeers move on in the West region, marking the third straight year they have advanced to the second round. Maryland, which has started three freshmen for much the season, lost in the first round for the first time since 1997.

After a slow start, Bluiett came through with 18 second-half points to help the Musketeers rally from an early 6-point deficit. Bluiett converted seven field goals, including five 3-pointers to energize Xavier.

Freshman Kevin Huerter led the Terps with 19 points while star guard Melo Trimble had 13 points, but made only one-third of his shots.

NOTRE DAME 60, PRINCETON 58

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Bonzie Colson scored 18 points and Notre Dame survived a first-round NCAA Tournament scare by pulling out a 60-58 win over Princeton.

The West Region's 12th-seeded Tigers had a chance to pull ahead on their final possession, but Devin Cannady missed an open 3-pointer just before the final horn. Notre Dame's Steve Vasturia pulled down the rebound and was fouled.

The Fighting Irish (26-9) nearly squandered an 11-point second half lead. Guard Matt Farrell scored 16 points, but missed the front end of a one-and-one with Notre Dame up 59-58.

Spencer Weisz led the Tigers with 15 points. The Ivy League champion Tigers (23-7) had a 19-game winning streak going into the NCAA Tournament.

GONZAGA 66, SOUTH DAKOTA STATE 46

SALT LAKE CITY -- Jordan Mathews scored 16 points to help Gonzaga slowly pull away from South Dakota State for a 66-46 victory and avoid the first 1 vs. 16 upset in the history of the NCAA Tournament.

It looked possible for a while.

The Jackrabbits (18-17), champions of the Summit League, led for the first 17 minutes of Thursday's game in the West region and stayed in range for most of the game.

They did it without a breakout game from Mike Daum. The nation's second-leading scorer finished 7-for-16 from the floor with 17 points -- more than eight below his average.

Daum did a nice job on Gonzaga's 7-foot-1 center, Przemek Karnowski, holding him to four points over the first 32 minutes.

But Karnowski, who finished with 10 points, scored three straight buckets for the Bulldogs (33-1) to help them expand the lead to 20 with 5 minutes left, and it was over.

WEST VIRGINIA 86, BUCKNELL 80

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Nathan Adrian had 12 points and 10 rebounds, leading West Virginia to an 86-80 win over Bucknell in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

Tarik Phillip scored 16 points for the West Region's fourth-seeded Mountaineers, who struggled at times with the outside-shooting Bison. West Virginia (27-9) avoided a repeat of last year's first-round meltdown when the third-seeded Mountaineers lost to Stephen F. Austin.

This win sets up a meeting against the region's fifth-seeded Notre Dame Fighting Irish, who hung on for a 60-58 win over Princeton earlier on Thursday.

Kimbal Mackenzie made 5 of 7 3-point attempts and led the Patriot League-champion Bison with 23 points. Bucknell (26-9) entered the tournament having won six straight and 14 of 16.

SAINT MARY'S 85, VCU 77

SALT LAKE CITY -- Jock Landale had 18 points and 13 rebounds as seventh-seeded Saint Mary's held on for an 85-77 victory over No. 10 Virginia Commonwealth in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament's West Region.

The Gaels led most of the way, but had to fight to hold on after the VCU defensive pressure started to become too much in the second half.

Joe Rahon and Calvin Hermanson finished with 16 points apiece for Saint Mary's.

JeQuan Lewis paced VCU with 30 points.

SOUTH REGION

BUTLER 76, WINTHROP 64

MILWAUKEE -- Avery Woodson scored 18 points and tied a career high with six 3-pointers in his NCAA Tournament debut to lead Butler to a 76-64 win over Winthrop.

Woodson, a graduate transfer from Memphis, hit five 3s in the first half to help the fourth-seeded Bulldogs build a 14-point halftime lead.

A 12-2 run in the middle of the second half gave Butler a 60-43 lead with less than 8 minutes left and put the game out of reach for the 13th-seeded Eagles.

Xavier Cooks had 23 points to lead Big South champion Winthrop (26-7).

Butler (24-8) looked comfortable all afternoon at the Bradley Center, the home of Big East rival Marquette. The last time the Bulldogs played in Milwaukee, Woodson scored 17 points in a 68-65 victory over Marquette last month.

One more win in Milwaukee and Butler could advance to their fifth Sweet 16 since 2003.

MIDDLE TENNESSEE STATE 81, MINNESOTA 72

MILWAUKEE -- Reggie Upshaw scored 19 points, Giddy Potts added 15 and Middle Tennessee State took down another Big Ten team in the NCAA Tournament, beating Minnesota 81-72.

Twelfth-seeded Middle Tennessee proved it was no one-year wonder after upsetting Michigan State as a No. 15 seed last March.

The Blue Raiders (31-4) instead played like seasoned NCAA veterans with the way they held off the Gophers' comeback attempt from a 17-point deficit in front of a loud and large contingent of Minnesota fans.

Upshaw responded with seven straight points, including a 3-pointer and a reverse layup during a 7-3 run to help give Middle Tennessee a 10-point lead with 3:40 left.

Coach Kermit Davis' club will move on to face No. 4 seed Butler in the second round on Saturday.

A season of redemption came to an end for fifth-seeded Minnesota (24-10), which bounced back from an eight-win season in 2015-16 to return to the NCAAs.

EAST REGION

VILLANOVA 76, MOUNT ST. MARY'S 56

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Donte DiVincenzo scored 21 points and NCAA Tournament top seed Villanova shook off a slow start and stumbled forward in the East region with a 76-56 victory over No. 16 seed Mount St. Mary's.

The Wildcats (32-3) weren't themselves for much of the first half before they opened the second half with a 21-6 run to take the first step toward defending their championship. Villanova is trying to be the first back-to-back titlist since Florida in 2007.

Since the NCAA went to seeding in 1985, No. 1 seeds are 130-0 against No. 16s. The historic upset remains elusive, but for a while it looked like it could happen inside KeyBank Center.

The Mountaineers (20-16), who edged New Orleans in a First Four matchup on Tuesday, gave the defending champions all they could handle for 20 minutes.

Freshman Miles Wilson scored 22 to lead Mount St. Mary's.

VIRGINIA 76, UNC WILMINGTON 71

ORLANDO, Fla. -- London Perrantes scored 24 points, Marial Shayok added a career-high 23 off the bench and No. 5 seed Virginia rallied from 15 points down to beat 13th-seeded UNC Wilmington 76-71 in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament on Thursday.

Perrantes scored 19 points in the second half as the Cavaliers (23-10) got their slow-paced offense going. His biggest bucket was a driving bank shot with 1:37 remaining, which put the Cavs up 71-66.

UNCW (29-6) wouldn't go away, though. Chris Flemmings drained a 3-pointer from the elbow and then Devontae Cacok hit a layup to make it 73-71 with less than a minute to play. But Shayok answered on the other end, banking in a runner that gave the Cavs some breathing room in the closing seconds.

Virginia advanced past the first round for the fourth consecutive year and won as a No. 5 seed for the first time in four tries. The Cavs can thank Perrantes and Shayok for making it happen.

FLORIDA 80, EAST TENNESSEE STATE 65

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Devin Robinson tied his career-high with 24 points, Kasey Hill added 14 and No. 4 seed Florida used a second-half surge to beat 13th-seeded East Tennessee State 80-65 in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament on Thursday.

Robinson, an NBA prospect who had been relatively quiet late in the season, scored his most points in nearly two months. He made 10 of 17 shots and chipped in seven rebounds. The speedy Hill reached double figures for the fourth consecutive game. He also added six rebounds and five assists for his most complete game in a month.

Kevarrius Hayes, filling in for injured center John Egbunu, finished with seven points, seven rebounds and six steals. He broke the school record for steals in an NCAA Tournament game.

MIDWEST REGION

PURDUE 80, VERMONT 70

MILWAUKEE -- Vincent Edwards scored 15 of his 21 points in the second half, and Purdue held off Vermont 80-70 on Thursday night for its first victory in the NCAA Tournament in five years.

Caleb Swanigan added 16 points, 14 rebounds and four assists for the fourth-seeded Boilermakers (26-7), who were upset by Arkansas-Little Rock in double overtime in the first round of last year's tournament. Dakota Mathias made three of Purdue's nine 3-pointers and finished with 13 points.

It was Vermont's first loss this calendar year. The Catamounts (29-6), the regular-season and tournament champions in the America East, had the nation's longest active win streak at 21 games. But they were unable to make up for a huge disadvantage inside against the bigger, stronger Boilermakers.


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