PORTLAND, Ore. — Coach Shaka Smart and Co. pulled off the first major surprise of the tournament.
Yup, Virginia Commonwealth University is back again.
Bradford Burgess hit a key 3-pointer with 1:33 left and the Rams held off Wichita State 62-59 in the South Regional on Thursday.
The 12th-seeded Rams (29-6), who advance to the Final Four last season, led by as many as 13 in the second half, but the fifth-seeded Shockers (26-6) closed to 54-53 on Garrett Stutz’s layup with 5:39 left. Troy Daniels hit a 3-pointer for the Rams, and Joe Ragland answered for Wichita State.
Toure Murry made a 3 that gave Wichita State the lead, but Burgess came back with his big shot to give the Rams a 60-59 edge. Darius Theus’ runner from about six feet provided the final margin.
Stutz’s long jumper just before the buzzer was off for fifth-seeded Wichita State.
LOUISVILLE 69, DAVIDSON 62
Peyton Siva scored 17 points and Louisville finally moved on in the tournament, beating Davidson.
After getting ousted in their first tournament game the past two seasons, coach Rick Pitino and the fourth-seeded Cardinals (27-9) advanced at last in the West Regional.
Siva, who had plenty of local support at the Rose Garden from his hometown of Seattle, added six assists to lead the Big East Tournament champions, who are making their sixth consecutive appearance in the NCAAs. Chane Behanan had 14 points and 11 rebounds for the Cardinals.
Jake Cohen had 24 points and 10 rebounds for Davidson (25-8).
NEW MEXICO 75,
LONG BEACH STATE 68
Kendall Williams scored 14 of his 16 points in the second half and bottled up Long Beach State star Casper Ware defensively to help fifth-seeded New Mexico (28-6) hold off the 49ers (25-9) in the West Regional.
Drew Gordon added 18 points and 13 rebounds for the Lobos, who hit their free throws in the final minute to advance to play Louisville on Saturday.
NEW MEXICO STATE 65
Jordan Hulls went on a second-half shooting spree and finished with 22 points, and the Hoosiers (26-8) rolled to an impressive win over New Mexico State (26-10).
Indiana picked up its first tournament win since beating Gonzaga in 2007 on a night its main stars – Cody Zeller and Christian Watford – did the heavy lifting in the opening minutes then watched Hulls and others take over.