No. 12 North Dakota State experienced the full range of emotions that the NCAA tournament can provide over the last week, beginning with hearing their name called on Selection Sunday. Making their second tournament appearance as a Division I member, Saul Phillips’ team was one more than a few people felt capable of winning once in the 68-team field. And sure enough the Bison did just that, knocking off No. 5 Oklahoma in overtime on Thursday night.
While that result and the celebrations that followed was certainly fun, North Dakota State had its eyes on a bigger prize: a spot in the Sweet 16. Unfortunately for the Bison Xavier Thames and the rest of the San Diego State Aztecs proved to be too much to overcome, with SDSU earning a spot in next week’s Sweet 16 with a 63-44 victory.
Following the game the Bison had to deal with the pain that the end of an NCAA tournament run can bring, with six seniors having played their last game for coach Phillips. Understandably Phillips and his players were emotional during their respective postgame press conferences, with the coach referring to this being “only the greatest week of my professional life.”
You can watch the entire press conference here:
Monmouth used a 17-2 run in the final minutes to beat Rider on Friday night, a win that will keep the Hawks within striking distance of the kind of an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament should they fall in the MAAC tourney.
The run was capped by star point guard Justin Robinson, who buried this three with three seconds left to put Monmouth up for good, 79-78:
Allonzo Trier scored 15 of his 18 points in the second half and Parker Jackson-Cartwright scored 16 points in his second career start as No. 17 Arizona knocked off UCLA, 81-75, in Tucson on Friday night.
UCLA was up by as much as 11 points in the first half and took a ten point lead into half time, but in the second half, the Bruins were eventually done in by foul trouble and the stronger front line of the Wildcats.
Ryan Anderson and Kaleb Tarczewski were dominant down the stretch. The duo combined to score 12 of the last 23 point for the Wildcats, including the bucket that put the Wildcats ahead for the first time since early in the first half. Off of a missed free throw, UCLA’s Thomas Welsh battled with Tarczewski for the rebound, but when Welsh finally seemed to gain control of the loose ball, Anderson knocked it out of his hands and bullied through Jonah Bolden for a layup.
All told, those two combined for 20 points and 27 boards, seven of which were offensive. They also managed to foul out both Welsh and Tony Parker, although some of the calls that went against UCLA down the stretch were questionable.
The win keeps Arizona within a game of first place Oregon in the Pac-12 standings and tied for second with No. 23 USC, who will be visiting the McKale Center on Sunday night.