James Madison Victorious, 68-55
DAYTON, Ohio- A.J. Davis, who stepped in as a starter because James Madison’s leading scorer was suspended for a half, led the way with 20 points as the Dukes beat LIU Brooklyn 68-55 on Wednesday night in the First Four.
The Dukes (21-14) advance to meet top-seeded Indiana (27-6) on Friday night at the same University of Dayton Arena.
James Madison was without suspended starter Rayshawn Goins for the first half but built a big lead. After the Blackbirds (20-14) battled back to take a brief lead, the Dukes surged again to win going away.
Charles Cooke added 15 points and Andre Nation 14 for the Dukes, who hadn’t won an NCAA tournament game since 1983 and hadn’t played in the big dance in 19 years.
Jamal Olasewere had 20 points and 10 rebounds and C.J. Garner 16 points for the Blackbirds, who have lost in their first game in each of their six trips to the tournament.
JMU was without Goins, its leading scorer (12.7) and rebounder (7.4) after he was suspended for the first half following a weekend arrest. Police in Harrisonburg, Va., said they were called to break up a party early Sunday morning and Goins was shouting obscenities at them. He was not arrested on site, according to the police, for fear the crowd would “turn riotous.”
After wasting a double-digit first-half lead, the Dukes regrouped. E.J. Reed’s two foul shots with 15:02 left gave the Blackbirds their first lead of the game.
But after falling behind, JMU found another gear.
Devon Moore, who had six assists, scored in transition right through the heart of the lane, Nation hit a follow and Davis took a long pass and popped in the shot off glass for a 45-40 advantage.
Nation then blocked a shot at the other end and tossed a long lead pass to Cooke, who dunked while being fouled. His three-point play made it a 9-0 run for a 48-40 lead with under 12 minutes left.
Goins came in early in the second half but appeared out of synch for several minutes. After missing his first three shots badly, he finally got on the board with a muscular move inside on a putback with 7:36 left to push the lead to 56-51. The next trip down the floor, he scored again, this time off a nifty assist pass inside from Ron Curry.
It was not a huge falloff going to Davis in the starting lineup in place of Goins, since Davis was MVP of the Colonial Athletic Association tournament just over a week ago, and came in averaging 20.5 in his last 10 games and 20.7 in the CAA tourney.
Davis, of course, opened the game with a 3 and the Dukes never trailed in the first half. They hit 4 of 8 3-pointers at the outset to build a 20-8 lead in the opening 9 minutes, with Davis matching Brooklyn’s output all by himself.
LIU, making its third straight NCAA appearance at Northeast Conference champions, had a hand in its poor start, turning the ball over seven times – with JMU scoring each time immediately afterward to turn those mistakes into 13 early points that fueled the Dukes’ spurt.
La Salle 80
Boise State 71
DAYTON, Ohio (AP) – Tyrone Garland led La Salle’s guard-driven offense with 22 points, and the Explorers wrapped up the NCAA tournament’s First Four by getting the better of an old-fashioned shootout.
The 13th-seeded Explorers (22-9) play fourth-seeded Kansas State on Friday in Kansas City.
Ramon Galloway, one of the Atlantic 10’s top scorers, added 21 points in a fast-paced offense that did pretty much whatever it wanted. The Explorers shot a season-high 63 percent from the field – 16 of 22 in the second half.
Garland went 9 of 11 from the field – his best shooting game of the season – and the Explorers were 11 of 21 behind the arc.
“It’s an unbelievable feeling,” Garland said. “When I came here, coach (John Giannini) told me I could help him win games and get him to the next step.”
Thirteenth-seeded Boise State (21-11) got its first at-large bid and was looking for the first NCAA tournament win in its history. The Broncos were up to it in a game of top-this shooting, falling to 0-6 in the tournament.
Anthony Drmic had a game-high 28 points for the Broncos, who shot 49 percent but trailed most of the way.
La Salle is back in the tournament for the first time since 1992, a 21-year span that included a rape scandal involving three players. The men’s and women’s basketball coaches were fired over it in 2004, and Giannini came in to dig out the program.
Giannini led the Explorers to back-to-back 20-win seasons for the first time since 1988-90. His first coaching appearance in the NCAA tournament completed the rebuilding and came 59 years after La Salle beat Bradley 92-76 for the 1954 NCAA title – in Kansas City, no less.
His guards led the way.
“I recruited Ty really, really hard out of high school, and I told him, ‘This is why I chased you all over the place, to win NCAA tournament games and see if you could be a great player,'” Giannini said. “I knew he could do it.”
Although the two teams had never played, they felt like they knew each other from somewhere. They saw mirror images of themselves as they watched videos in preparation for the game – two teams that use four guards, taking an uncommonly small approach to a big man’s game.
Sam Mills hit three 3s, Galloway scored his first points off a drive to the basket, and Garland and D.J. Peterson made layups for a 22-12 midway through the first half.
The Explorers would never be seriously threatened again.