NCAA Tournament Day 1 recap and awards


The first day of March Madness was everything we hoped for.

Well, at least the early games were.

Four of the first five finishes ended with a shot made with less than five seconds on the clock. One of a certified buzzer beater. Another came with 0.4 seconds left on the clock. All told, seven of the 16 games were decided by five points or less, and even Michigan State’s disappointing first round exit featured a comeback from 23 points down and a shot to win the game.

There may have been some snoozers later in the day — I’m looking at you, UConn — but all in all is was an eventful and exciting first day of hoops.

Here’s a recap of everything the folks that celebrated St. Patrick’s Day missed. Or forgot…

Game of the Day: Butler 60, Old Dominion 58

This game was just as good as we all hoped it would be. Neither team led by more than six points. The lead changed hands 21 times. It’s only fitting that a game between two grind-it-out, blue collar teams was decided when a 50-50 ball ended up in Matt Howard’s hands, who layed it in only tenths of a second before the buzzer went off.

The Monarchs came in with the reputation as one of the country’s best rebounding teams, but it was the play of Butler’s frontcourt that made the difference. Matt Howard and Andrew Smith combined for 26 points, while Khyle Marshall and Garrett Butcher had 12 boards, eight of which came on the offensive end. Butler advanced to play Pitt in the second round.

Team of the Day: Morehead State Eagles

With Kenny Faried and Demonte Harper struggling — they combined to go 7-28 from the floor for just 20 points — it was the play of Terrance Hill and Ty Proffit that made the difference. They combined for 36 points on 8-12 shooting from beyond the arc to keep Morehead State within striking distance.

In the clutch, however, coach Donnie Tyndall relied on his stars. Harper drilled a three at the top of the key with 4.5 seconds left that gave Morehead State a 62-61 lead with 4.5 seconds left, and Faried blocked Mike Marra’s shot — it looked like close to being a foul, but looking at replays Faried made a clean defensive play — that sealed the win. Morehead State will play Richmond in the second round.

Player of the Day: Marquise Carter, Gonzaga

Carter has really come on late in the season. He averaged 13.1 ppg in the Zags’ last seven games, combining with David Stockton to solidify the point guard spot. But easily his best game of the season came against the Johnnies, as Carter exploded for a career-high 24 points, six assists, and six boards in an 86-71 win.

Gonzaga has desperately needed a playmaker all season. The knock on this team was that they haven’t been able to replace Matt Bouldin’s production. Expecting this kind of performance out of Carter for the rest of the tournament is too much, but if he can become a consistent playmaker in the tournament the way he was down the stretch of the season, Gonzaga becomes a much more dangerous team.


Temple 66, Penn State 64: The Owls survived a tough test against a scrappy Penn State team. The started slow — neither team is known for their potent offense or exciting style of play — but the finish was classic. The two team traded baskets over the last five minutes, with Temple opening up a three point lead in the final minute. But the Owls lost track of Talor Battle, who drilled a deep three to tie the game. At the other end of the floor, Juan Fernandez — who had 23 points, which tied for the team-high with Ramone Moore — hit a tough, leaning 15 footer with 0.4 seconds left for the win.

Kentucky 59, Princeton 57: Brandon Knight struggled, but John Calipari put the ball in his hands on the final possession, and Knight delivered. He scored on a driving layup that gave Kentucky a 59-57 lead with 2.0 seconds left, he first points of the game. Terrence Jones and Doron Lamb also struggled, but Kentucky’s veterans stepped up. Josh Harrellson had 15 points and 10 boards while Darius Miller went for 17. Kentucky will face West Virginia Saturday.

Richmond 69, Vanderbilt 66: Kevin Anderson hit three threes in a 1:41 span during the second half as the Spiders’ 12-0 run to erase a 48-39 deficit. Down the stretch, Vandy could not execute offensively. They missed three free throws in the final minute, turned the ball over with a chance to tie, and then failed to get a good look on an out-of-bounds play with 2.5 seconds left. The Spiders, behind 25 points from Anderson, advance to play Morehead State.

UCLA 78, Michigan State 76: UCLA didn’t win as much as it survived. The Bruins opened up a 64-41 lead with 8:30 remaining. When the Spartans finally woke up — and, more importantly, finally started defending — they were able to make their run. A Keith Appling three with 4.4 seconds left cut the lead to one, but after the Bruins went 1-2 from the line, Kalin Lucas traveled and was unable to get off a potentially game-winning heave. Draymond Green led the comeback charge with 23 points, 11 boards, and 10 assists. Tyler Honeycutt led four players in double figures with 16 points, five boards, five assists, three steals, and three blocks.

West Virginia 84, Clemson 76: Clemson looked great early, jumping out to a double-digit lead. But the Mountaineers used a 15-1 run that spanned both halves, eventually taking a 46-41 lead and pushing that out to double digits. The Mountaineers allowed Clemson to cut the lead to 74-71 with 90 seconds left, but Dalton Pepper, playing the top of the Mountaineer’s 2-3, picked off three consecutive passes — two of which led to layups — as WVU used a 6-0 run in the span of about 15 seconds to put the game away. The Mountaineers advance to face Kentucky.

Kansas State 73, Utah State 68: Jacob Pullen overcame a bout with the flu to score 22 points and hand out five assists as the Wildcats knocked off the Aggies. Don’t be fooled, this was an impressive win. Utah State is a senior-laden team that is tough defensively with a couple of offensive weapons. The final score was only five, but Kansas State controlled the second half. It should be fun to see the Wildcats take on the Badgers on Saturday.

BYU 74, Wofford 66: The Cougars struggled early against Wofford, allowing the Terriers to take a six point lead midway through the first half, but the Jimmer and company were just too much. Fredette finished with 32 points and seven assists, but it was the fact that BYU held Wofford, who was 42nd in the nation in offensive efficiency coming in, to under 40 percent shooting from the field while grabbing nine steals.

Wisconsin 72, Belmont 58: It turns out that Wisconsin was just too much for Belmont. Jon Leuer had 17 of his 22 points in the second half and Jordan Taylor added 21 points as the Badgers pulled away in the second half.

Cincinnati 78, Missouri 63: After falling behind 9-2 in the first few minutes, Cincinnati asserted its will on this game. The Bearcats handled Missouri’s press and obliterated the Tigers in the paint and in the halfcourt. Yancy Gates led four players in double figures with 18 points and 11 boards.

San Diego State 68, Northern Colorado 50: Devon Beitzel scored 25 points to keep this thing close for a while, but in the the Aztecs were too much. Kawhi Leonard had 21 points and 10 boards while Billy White added 12 and 13. The Aztecs advance to face Temple.

Pitt 74, UNC-Asheville 51: Pitt was Pitt. They dominated the offensive glass and Ashton Gibbs scored 26 points on 6-9 shooting from deep. Pitt gets Butler next.

Florida 79, UC Santa Barbara 51: Florida was the first team of the day to flex their muscles over an inferior opponent. Erving Walker and Kenny Boynton combined for 31 points on 11-17 shooting.

UConn 81, Bucknell 52: Beat. Down. The final score doesn’t do it justice. Kemba finished 18 points, 12 assists, and eight boards.

Northwestern beats No. 20 Michigan State in Big Ten opener

Nick King/Lansing State Journal / USA TODAY NETWORK

EAST LANSING, Mich. – Boo Buie scored 20 points and Northwestern beat No. 20 Michigan State 70-63 on Sunday night in the Big Ten opener for both teams.

Chase Audige added 15 points and Ty Berry had 13 for Northwestern (6-2), which ended a two-game losing streak.

“Needless to say, this was a huge win for us,” coach Chris Collins said. “Coming off our performance in the ACC-Big Ten challenge, where we lost badly on our home floor (to Pittsburgh), I was really pleased with our resolve the past couple days.”

Mady Sossoko and A.J. Hoggard each had 12 points for Michigan State (5-4) and Joey Hauser added 10. The Spartans have lost two in a row, falling to Notre Dame earlier in the week.

Hoggard cut Northwestern’s lead to 64-63 with 46 seconds left. After a timeout, Buie scored on a layup with 23 seconds left.

“We got out-toughed,” Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said.

Northwestern took the lead late in the first half on a layup by Buie and never relinquished it, leading by as many as nine points.

“We put (the loss to Pittsburgh) under the rug,” Buie said. “We turned the page, just like we do with any win or loss. The season is so long you can’t get caught up on one single game. Just like tonight. We’re super happy with the win, but after tonight it’s over. You can’t dwell on things.”

The Wildcats went 21 of 24 on free throws, while the Spartans were 9 of 12.

“I was concerned about a knockout punch early,” Collins said. ‘I knew they would be revved up after the Notre Dame loss. They hit us early and got a seven-point lead, and then we settled down.”


Northwestern: Hosts Prairie View A&M on Dec. 11

Michigan State: At Penn State on Wednesday night.

Miles, No. 7 Notre Dame women beat No. 3 UConn; Fudd hurt

Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

SOUTH BEND, Ind. – Olivia Miles had 21 points and eight rebounds for No. 7 Notre Dame, and UConn star Azzi Fudd suffered a knee injury in a collision with a teammate, as the Fighting Irish handed the third-ranked Huskies their first loss of the season, 74-60 on Sunday.

“I think she’ll be all right,” UConn coach Geno Auriemma said afterwards of Fudd, who went into the day averaging 24.0 points, but finished scoreless on two shots over 13 minutes.

Fudd exited in the final minute of the first quarter after teammate Aaliyah Edwards fell on her. She returned midway through the second period to play four hobbled minutes, but sat the rest of the way as a precaution, according to Auriemma.

Maddy Westbeld had a season-high 17 points and nine rebounds for Notre Dame (7-1), which bounced back from a 74-72 loss to No. 20 Maryland three days earlier.

“I think Thursday’s loss really fueled us today,” Irish coach Niele Ivey said. “We learned a lot from that game. We have incredible scorers on our team, a lot of balance offensively, but it’s our defense that’s gonna win games, so that was our focus the last 48 hours. (The players) took the challenge and came out and played with heart and defensive intensity. I feel like if we can play that way, we can beat anyone in the country.”

Notre Dame shot 56% from the field while limiting the Huskies to 37%.

“We played very badly (Thursday), but we were still two points away,” Miles said, “so it’s kind of scary what we can do when we play really well.”

Led by Miles, the Irish roared to a 41-24 lead by intermission, outscoring the Huskies 30-11 over the final 11 minutes of the first half.

Miles scored 13 of Notre Dame’s 18 first-quarter points, going 6 of 7 from the field. Westbeld provided her scoring punch after averaging 5.2 points over her previous five outings.

Lou Lopez Senechal led UConn (6-1) with 21 points. Edwards added 14.

“We didn’t win the rebound battle and that hurt us,” said Auriemma, whose club was outboarded 39-26 and outscored in the paint. 46-16. “We just didn’t have enough scoring on the court and enough people playing at a real high level to get enough buckets when we needed them.”

The Huskies got as close at 49-44 at the 3:44 mark of the third quarter, but the Irish stretched their lead back to as high as 70-53 at the midway mark of the fourth period.

Notre Dame ended a seven-game head-to-head losing streak against UConn in regular-season play, prevailing for the first time since a triple-overtime decision in March 2013.


UConn: The Huskies faced a top-10 opponent for the fourth time this season, but this one was their first true road game. If Fudd’s injury doesn’t turn out to be serious, UConn ought to still have a chance to do what it’s done for decades: craft a resume that will make them a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.

Notre Dame: The Irish, coming back from that loss at the buzzer to Maryland, showed that Thursday’s outcome may just be a blip on their promising season. Notre Dame matched last season’s win over No. 3 North Carolina State for the highest-ranked team it has beaten in its third year under Ivey.


UConn: The Huskies host Princeton on Thursday before visiting Maryland next Sunday.

Notre Dame: The Irish have a couple apparent mismatches coming up as they visit Lafayette (2-7) on Thursday and host Merrimack (1-6) on Saturday.

Brink leads No. 2 Stanford women over No. 23 Gonzaga 84-63

Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports
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STANFORD, Calif. – Gonzaga may be rolling out an injury-depleted roster, but the Bulldogs nevertheless left a lasting impression on their West Coast rival in Stanford.

And that leads the Cardinal to wonder if the two power programs might meet again on college basketball’s biggest stage come March.

“This is a team that is a Top-25 team,” Hall of Fame Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer said. “I think if we can do it, they’re going to be in Seattle (for the NCAA Tournament).”

Cameron Brink had 14 points and a season-high 16 rebounds and Brooke Demetre made a career-high five 3s and scored 17 points, leading second-ranked Stanford past No. 23 Gonzaga 84-63 on Sunday.

The Cardinal (10-1) have now won five straight games after falling to top-ranked South Carolina in overtime on Nov. 20.

“I kind of call Brooke my secret weapon,” VanDerveer said. “She is a really special young lady, and when you have both Cam out there and Brooke, it’s a two-headed monster.”

“She has one of the highest releases I’ve ever seen, one of the quickest releases,” Brink said of Demetre. “She can shoot it, and we’ve always had confidence in her.”

Hannah Jump hit four 3s and scored 14 points, and Haley Jones had 12 points for Stanford.

Short-handed Gonzaga (7-2), limited to seven players because of illness and injuries, had won three in a row.

The Zags kept the pressure on Stanford early in the game, thanks to a 20-point first half from Kaylynne Truong.

Truong shot 4 of 9 from deep and finished with a career-high 22 points.

Brynna Maxwell contributed 19 points. Yvonne Ejim, Gonzaga’s leading scorer, was held to two points in the first three quarters but added six points in the fourth.

“We try to focus on a leading scorer and try to limit them,” VanDerveer said. “But you can’t just focus on (Ejim) because they’ve got Truong, they’ve got Maxwell. . I think we did a much better job (on defense) in the second half.”


The Cardinal were able to pull away due to a strong game from beyond the arc, making 15 3-pointers on 15 of 28 (53.6%) shooting. A season-high eight different Stanford players made a 3, led by Demetre’s five and Jump’s four.


Gonzaga: Lost its fourth straight in the series with Stanford and dropped to 1-7 on the Cardinal’s home floor. The Zags haven’t won any matchups since a 79-73 victory at home on Dec. 2, 2018. … Despite playing short-handed, Gonzaga did not yield an easy win to its higher-ranked opponent, trailing by just one point after the first quarter before fading in the second half.

Stanford: Held a 37-23 rebounding advantage. … This win marked the beginning of a crucial stretch in the Cardinal’s season. Stanford’s next two games come against Tennessee – receiving votes in The Associated Press Top 25 poll – and No. 13 Creighton, followed by the start of Pac-12 Conference play against rival California on Dec. 23.


Gonzaga: The Bulldogs return to McCarthey Athletic Center to start a five-game homestand, starting with a Tuesday matchup vs. Queens University of Charlotte.

Stanford: After a two-week break for final exams, the Cardinal will continue their seven-game homestand vs. Tennessee on Dec. 18.

Top-ranked Houston grinds out 53-48 win over Saint Mary’s

Chris Jones-USA TODAY Sports
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FORT WORTH, Texas – J’Wan Roberts scored 15 points, Marcus Sasser added 13 and top-ranked Houston held on to beat Saint Mary’s 53-48 on Saturday night.

The Cougars (8-0) won twice in their first week as the No. 1 team since the final poll of the 1982-83 regular season, when Clyde Drexler and Hakeem Olajuwon led high-flying Phi Slama Jama.

Logan Johnson scored 17 points and Aidan Mahaney had 14 for the Gaels (6-3), who lost their third in a row following a 6-0 start.

Houston was the favorite to win it all in the second of three consecutive trips to the Final Four nearly 40 years ago, but lost to Jim Valvano and North Carolina State in one of the iconic championship games.

Coach Kelvin Sampson’s first top-ranked team is coming off trips to the Final Four and Elite Eight the past two seasons.

For the third straight year, the postseason path will start at Dickie’s Arena, where Sampson likes to bring his team during the regular season as prep for the American Athletic Conference tourney.

This victory in the Battleground 2k22 series improved the Cougars to 9-0 in the arena near downtown Fort Worth, where they have won AAC tournament titles each of the past two years.

Saint Mary’s whittled a 12-point deficit to a single possession when Mahaney hit a 3, and he made it a three-point game again at 46-43 with another from long range.

Roberts answered by backing down for a short jump hook before Sasser converted a three-point play to put the Cougars up 51-43.

Houston broke a 17-all tie with a 14-3 run to finish the first half, with Saint Mary’s going 1 of 11 from the field in that stretch against the vaunted Cougars defense. Both teams shot 37%.


Saint Mary’s: Facing the No. 1 team isn’t foreign to the Gaels, who play in the West Coast Conference with Gonzaga. St. Mary’s is 2-7 against the Zags when they have the top ranking, with one of the victories coming last season.

Houston: The Cougars had no trouble in their debut with the No. 1 ranking, blowing out Norfolk State 100-52 at home Tuesday. A disciplined and tournament-tested opponent for the second game was just the threat Sampson’s club figured it could be.


Saint Mary’s: Missouri State at home Wednesday.

Houston: North Florida at home Tuesday.

Clowney, No. 11 Alabama recover to beat South Dakota St

Gary Cosby Jr.-USA TODAY Sports
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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – Freshman Noah Clowney’s breakout game – 22 points, nine rebounds, four assists and a steal – helped No. 11 Alabama recover from blowing a 20-point lead and beat South Dakota State 78-65 on Saturday night.

Clowney shot 8 of 17, including 5 of 12 on 3s, in his highest-scoring game of the season.

“We’ve encouraged him to shoot it, I’m glad he did,” Alabama coach Nate Oats said. “His senior year of high school, he started out pretty poorly from 3 then shot it 40% after that, so I kind of referenced that.”

Alabama (7-1) led 37-17 with 6 1/2 minutes left in the first half. South Dakota State (3-6) rallied to go ahead 51-50 on Alex Arians’ 3-pointer with 11 1/2 minutes remaining.

Nimari Burnett’s foul shot a minute later put the Crimson Tide ahead for good at 54-53. Alabama used a 9-0 run to pull away.

Mark Sears scored 19 points and Brandon Miller had 16 points and nine rebounds for the Crimson Tide

Alabama made 14 of its first 26 shots to build a big lead before it slipped away.

“I’m not going to call them mature, we still have some room to grow,” Oats said. “Our guys have to understand, no matter who we’re playing, even if their record isn’t great, they’re Division I basketball players, they’re good teams. Last year, we had issues with this going down the road.”

Charlie Easley and Arians each scored 17 points for the Jackrabbits. Zeke Mayo added 12 points and Matt Dentlinger contributed nine rebounds.


Sears continues to be a force at home for Alabama. In Alabama’s last three home games – wins over Liberty, Jacksonville State and South Dakota State – he has scored 22, 18 and 19 points, making at least three 3-pointers in all three games. Alabama’s next home game comes against a Memphis team that already has two wins over SEC competition.


South Dakota State coach Eric Henderson noticed that in Alabama’s first two home games, Longwood and Liberty both trailed by fewer than 10 points at halftime before losing by 21 and 36 points, respectively. He viewed the first five minutes of the second half as critical in both instances, seeing an Alabama team using the home environment to its advantage.

Henderson stressed to his team that it had to win those five minutes to have a chance. Down 42-35 at the break, it did, and ultimately took the lead.

“They really increase the pressure, they try to play a little faster, they get downhill and they really spray it,” Henderson said. “I thought we were getting some 50-50 balls, I thought we were playing with some confidence. There’s been a lot of schools to come in here and have a good first half and it ends up being a 30- or 40-point game.”


South Dakota State stays on the road to face Montana on Tuesday.

Alabama takes a weeklong break before its second game against the current No. 1 team in the nation, this time a road game against Houston on Saturday. The Crimson Tide beat former No. 1 North Carolina in its first shot at the top-ranked team, winning 103-101 in four overtimes on Nov. 27.