SPOKANE, Washington — Hawaii coach Eran Ganot talked about his reverence for the history and tradition of Rainbow Warriors’ basketball while on the interview podium Friday following his team’s 77-66 upset of fourth-seeded California in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
What almost went unsaid is that, for all of Ganot’s respect for the past achievements, his 13th-seeded Rainbow Warriors likely provided the program its biggest moment ever in handling the talent-stacked but short-handed Golden Bears mostly from start to finish.
It was Hawaii’s first NCAA Tournament win in five trips. The best previous showing was a 10-point loss to Syracuse in 2001.
“What a moment in a year of moments,” said Ganot, the team’s first-year coach. “These guys just keep giving us more.”
Quincy Smith scored 19 points, Roderick Bobbitt added 17 and Stefan Jankovic had 16 to pace the Rainbow Warriors (28-5), who trailed 11-8 just five minutes in, but went on a 10-2 run to establish a lead the Big West Conference champions would nurse most of the first half before building some breathing room in the second.
Cal (23-11) pulled to within a point late in the first half and midway through the second, but the Rainbow Warriors beat the Bears back with the balanced scoring attack. When Mike Thomas hit a 3-pointer with 6:11 to play, the lead that had been trimmed to a single point with 11:57 to go was extended to 11 and Hawaii was on its way to a berth in the Round of 32 against either Maryland or South Dakota State.
Ganot said he kept it simple when his team looked like it was starting to slide. He said that, during a timeout, he wrote a single-word of instruction to his team: solid.
“You have to be solid. That’s what got us to this point,” he said. “You just have to be solid. I was really proud of how we handled that because, when the momentum shifted, you have to respond. It wasn’t a magic formula. It was just solid.”
Stephen F. Austin 70, West Virginia 56
BROOKLYN, N.Y. — Thomas Walkup poured in a career-high 33 points to lead 14th seeded Stephen F. Austin to a 70-56 upset win over third-seeded West Virginia in the first round of the NCAA Tournament’s East Regional on Friday night at the Barclays Center.
The Lumberjacks (28-5) face Michigan or Notre Dame in the second round on Sunday.
Eighth-ranked West Virginia (26-9) reached the Sweet 16 last year.
Walkup was 19 of 20 from the free throw line. He also grabbed nine rebounds and had four assists.
Stephen F. Austin scored 29 points off 22 West Virginia turnovers.
Devin Williams topped West Virginia with 12 points.
The Mountaineers never led in the second half, falling prey to Stephen F. Austin’s pressure.
Syracuse 70, Dayton 51
ST. LOUIS — The 10th-seeded Orange issued their rebuttal to critics as they routed the seventh-seeded Flyers in a Midwest Region first-round game.
When the NCAA Tournament field was announced on Sunday, Syracuse was panned as one of the teams which netted an undeserved bid because of its 1-5 finish to the regular season.
Malachi Richardson paced Syracuse (20-13) with a game-high 21 points before fouling out, while four other teammates joined him in double figures. Tyler Roberson contributed 10 points and 18 rebounds as the Orange owned the glass 48-28, including 28-14 in the second half.
Charles Cooke led Dayton (25-8) with 14 points.
Iowa 72, Temple 70 (OT)
BROOKLYN, N.Y. — Adam Woodbury’s putback as time expired sent Iowa past Temple in the first round of the East Regional at the Barclays Center.
Woodbury grabbed a missed jump shot from Mike Gesell to put in the game-winner.
Iowa (22-10) the seventh seed, will meet second-seeded Villanova in the second round on Sunday. Woodbury’s basket dashed the hopes for an all-Philadelphia second round matchup.
Jarrod Uthoff led Iowa with 23 points and Peter Jok added 16. Woodbury chipped in with 10 points.
Quenton DeCosey topped Temple (21-12) with 26 points. Josh Brown scored 16 points and Jaylen Bond had 14 points and 15 rebounds for the Owls, who tied it at 70 on a layup from Brown with 51 seconds to play.
Wisconsin 47, Pittsburgh 43
ST. LOUIS — Wisconsin found just enough offense in the nick of time.
Vitto Brown’s 3-pointer with 2:34 left gave the Badgers the lead for good and they held off Pittsburgh 47-43 Friday in a first-round matchup of the NCAA Tournament’s East Region at Scottrade Center.
Both teams are 21-12, but it’s seventh-seeded Wisconsin that moves on to a matchup Sunday with second-seeded Xavier or 15th-seeded Weber State.
Forward Ethan Happ, who led all scorers with 15 points, added a bucket in the lane while being fouled with 1:43 left to make it 44-40. Panthers forward Jamel Artis drained a 3-pointer with 40.6 seconds remaining to cut the lead to a point.
Pittsburgh had a chance to take the lead, but guard James Robinson missed a driving layup in heavy traffic and Happ was fouled on the rebounding action with 2.0 seconds remaining.
Happ made one of his two foul shots, with Hayes grabbing the miss of the second free throw. He was fouled and drilled both of his foul shots to seal the verdict.
Villanova 86, UNC Asheville 56
BROOKLYN, N.Y. — Daniel Ochefu returned to the starting lineup after being hampered by an ankle injury, scoring 17 points and pulling in 10 rebounds in the second-seeded Wildcats’ win over the 15th-seeded Bulldogs in the South Region first round.
Villanova (30-5) moves into Sunday’s second round. Ryan Arcidiacono scored 14 points and Kris Jenkins added 12 for the Wildcats.
Dylan Smith paced Asheville (22-12) with 14 points. The Bulldogs never led.
Maryland 79, South Dakota St. 74
SPOKANE, Wash. — Jake Layman scored a season-high 27 points and Melo Trimble had 15 of his 19 points in the first half as fifth-seeded Maryland built leads as large as 18 points before holding off 12th-seeded South Dakota State for a 79-74 victory in a first-round game.
South Dakota State’s Deondre Parks hit three free throw to trim the Maryland lead to 76-74 with 12.1 seconds lef. When Maryland’s Jaylen Brantley missed one of two free throws, the door was open, but South Dakota State turned the ball over.
Layman torched the Jackrabbits from deep, making 5 of 8 shots from 3-point range. South Dakota State freshman Mike Daum did what he could to keep the Jackrabbits in contention, scoring nine of his 16 points in the second half. Parks led South Dakota State with 22 points.
Oklahoma 82, CSU Bakersfield 68
OKLAHOMA CITY — Oklahoma refused to become another No. 2 seed gone sour even though 15th-seeded Cal State Bakersfield refused to go away. Buddy Hield scored 27 points to help the Sooners survive a West Regional first-round game.
Oklahoma plays Virginia Commonwealth next.
Even with a huge crowd from just down the road in Norman, Okla., behind Oklahoma, the Sooners rarely led by double digits against the Roadrunners. Oklahoma (27-7) finally came up with the right combination of defensive stops and shooting touch on the offensive end to take control in the final three minutes.
Jordan Woodard and Hield each hit 3-pointers, sandwiched around a key block by forward Khadeem Lattin on the other end. Hield’s 3-pointer put the Sooners ahead 75-65 with 2:31 remaining.
Center Aly Ahmed scored 16 to lead the Roadrunners (24-9), but Oklahoma clamped down on him and held him scoreless in the second half.
VCU 75, Oregon State 67
OKLAHOMA CITY — It wasn’t exactly an upset as the 10th-seeded Rams executed their game plan and defeated the seventh-seeded Beavers in the West Region first round.
JeQuan Lewis scored a team-high 21 points with seven rebounds and eight assists, while Mo Alie-Cox added 20 points and grabbed seven boards for VCU (25-10).
Gary Payton II led Oregon State (19-13) with 19 points.