National Invitation Tournament - Night One Review
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Kent State 71, Saint Mary’s (CA) 70
The night’s biggest stunner came in the final NIT game on the slate. When all other games had been put to bed, this one continued on the West Coast and produced a very surprising result. The Kent State Golden Flashes trailed 57-45 with 12:54 left in Moraga, California, against the Saint Mary’s Gaels, who were trying to make a run after being left out of the NCAA Tournament. Saint Mary’s still led 67-61 with just over two minutes left and, in the final seconds, still owned a 70-67 edge. Then, however, the miracle happened. Kent State scored a layup with 10 seconds left to make the score 70-69. KSU stole the inbounds pass and produced a Justin Greene layup with four ticks left on the clock to finish off the amazing comeback. Saint Mary’s was the No. 2 seed in this NIT subregional, opening up the bracket for a darkhorse team.
Boston College 82, McNeese State 64
Boston College, left out of the NCAA Tournament, owns a top seed in its NIT subregional. Yet, the Eagles were forced to play this game at McNeese State. BC had to visit the Cowboys’ home court in Lake Charles, Louisiana, because of a scheduling conflict created by the Eagles’ hockey team. Boston College cruised in this contest, rolling to a 41-19 halftime lead before breezing to the finish line without too much stress or strain. The Eagles hit 53 percent of their shots while limiting the Cowboys to just 36 percent shooting from the floor.
Missouri State 89, Murray State 76
On what was a great night for the Missouri Valley Conference, the league’s regular-season champion, the Missouri State Bears, held the banner most proudly by winning their NIT opener against Ohio Valley Conference foe Murray State. The Racers were outraced by the Bears, who hit 55 percent of their field goal attempts to Murray State’s 54-percent clip. This game was decided at the foul line. Murray State earned 27 attempts at the charity stripe but converted only 12 of them. Missouri State hit 27 of its 33 attempts for a plus-15 scoring margin in a game decided by 13 points.
Cleveland State 63, Vermont 60
This game featured one of the most amazing endings you’ll ever see. The Vermont Catamounts destroyed the Cleveland State Vikings on the boards, 42-26, but couldn’t hit threes (only 2 of 13 for the night). This imbalance created a very close contest that went down to the last shot. Vermont attempted a game-tying three-point attempt at the buzzer. The ball bounced off the rim not once, not twice, and not even three times. The shot bounced a fourth time on the rim before finally kangarooing away from the basket. Vermont players clutched their heads in disbelief while the Vikings escaped and moved on to round two of this 32-team, five-round event.
College of Charleston 94, Dayton 84
Two factors helped the College of Charleston Cougars defeat the Dayton Flyers on Tuesday night. First of all, the NCAA Tournament defeated Dayton. Because of the “First Four” play-in games at University of Dayton Arena, the Flyers – despite their higher seed (third in this NIT subregional; Charleston was slotted sixth) – had to play on the road in Charleston, South Carolina. Secondly, when given a familiar shooting environment, Charleston star Andrew Goudelock took advantage. The stellar playmaker hit 11 of 24 shots from the field, including 8 of 15 3-pointers. Goudelock added a 9-of-10 outing at the foul line to total 39 points and carry his team to round two.
New Mexico 69, UTEP 57
The New Mexico Lobos defeated the UTEP Miners in the opening round of NIT play at the Pit in Albuquerque, New Mexico on Tuesday evening. In the Lobos first action without captain Dairese Gary, they looked comfortable in every facet, extending a four point halftime lead to double-digits as the second continued on. Drew Gordon had 18 points and 9 rebounds while Freshman Kendell Williams added 18 points, 5 rebounds, and 4 assists. A great crowd turned out to see the Lobos face off with their long-time rival from the Lone Star State. UTEP struggled to find an offensive rhythm all night long. Randy Cullpepper led all scorers with 23 points. The Miners finished the season at 25-10. New Mexico advances to the second round to face top-seeded Alabama in Tuscaloosa.
Fairfield 62, Colorado State 60
The Fairfeld Stags, regular season champions from the small Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, upset Colorado State from the Mountain West Conference in the opening round of the NIT at Moby Arena in Fort Collins, Colorado on Tuesday night. The Stag defense was tremendous all night long, holding the Rams to just 32 percent shooting and forcing 20 turnovers. First Team All-MWC selection Andy Ogide had just 13 points in a losing effort. Fairfield’s Yorel Hawkins led all scorers with 17 points. The Rams, who finished their season in very disappointing fashion, could not close out yet another close ballgame and lost their sixth game in the past seven contests. Fairfeld will play St. Mary’s in the second round of the tournament.
Oklahoma State 71, Harvard 54
Much had been made of Harvard’s buzzer-beating loss to Princeton in the Ivy League tiebreaker and the Crimson’s subsequent snub from NCAA Tournament. Well, those who were preaching Harvard’s cause have fallen silent on Tuesday night as the Oklahoma State blitzed the Crimson at Gallagher-Iba Arena in Stillwater, Oklahoma. Harvard was simply outmatched in every aspect and fell behind by as many as 19. Marshall Moses had 18 points and eight rebounds to pace the Cowboys. Harvard, which was seeking its first-ever postseason victory, finished at 23-7. The Cowboys will play the winner of the Washington State/Long Beach State first round game to be played on Wednesday.
Alabama 68, Coastal Carolina 44
While the post-game interviews failed to bring it out of them, the Alabama Crimson Tide were furious about being left out of the NCAA Tournament two days ago and were looking to make a statement. Unfortunately, for Coastal Carolina, runaway regular season champion of the Big South Conference, the Tide were angry. Alabama completely dominated the Chanticleers in every aspect. Alabama led by 30 points at one point. Coastal Carolina finished the season at 28-6. Alabama will host a second round matchup with New Mexico.
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