Sunday, July 22, 2018
Sports

Stephen F. Austin upsets WVU in East; Wisconsin takes out Pitt

NEW YORK — Thomas Walkup scored 33 points and 14th-seeded Stephen F. Austin faced down West Virginia's full-court pressure with some of its own in-your-face defense, pulling off a rugged 70-56 first-round upset of the third-seeded Mountaineers on Friday night in the NCAA Tournament.

The Lumberjacks (28-5) ran the nation's longest winning streak to 21 games and will face either No. 6 Notre Dame or No. 11 Michigan, which played late Friday, at Barclays Center in the second round of the East Region on Sunday.

The Mountaineers and Lumberjacks played physical, chest-to-chest defense, contesting not just every shot but every pass. Neither team shot better than 31 percent.

Walkup, the two-time Southland Conference player of the year, took it to the teeth of West Virginia's defense and went to the line 20 times. He made 19 free throws, including two to make it 60-47 with 5:15 left in the second half after West Virginia coach Bob Huggins' griping to officials drew a technical foul.

When Clide Geffard slammed home an alley-oop to make it 66-54 with 2:40 left, the Lumberjacks' purple-clad supporters roared, knowing the biggest win in program history was all but complete.

West Virginia went in leading the nation in steals per game, averaging just under 10. "Press Virginia," the Mountaineers call it, but they met their match in Stephen F. Austin. The Lumberjacks lead the nation in turnovers forced at nearly 19 per game. They forced 22 West Virginia turnovers.

Making its third straight NCAA appearance under coach Brad Underwood, Stephen F. Austin won in the first round for the second time.

The Mountaineers, from the Big 12, became the first No. 3 seed to be eliminated from the field of 68 and joined No. 2 seed Michigan State and No. 4 seed California as Friday's biggest surprise losers.

Wisconsin 47, Pittsburgh 43: Wisconsin freshman forward Ethan Happ, in his NCAA Tournament debut, scored 15 points and pulled down nine rebounds — none bigger than the one he grabbed in the closing seconds — to help the seventh-seeded Badgers edge No. 10 seed Pittsburgh in their first-round matchup at St. Louis.

"Defense won the game for us," said the Badgers' Bronson Koenig. "We got a couple different guys who had some really big rebounds for us, and we got the ball inside, and they converted."

The Badgers (21-12) advanced despite an abhorrent shooting night. Nigel Hayes was 3-for-17 from the field, Koenig failed to hit a 3-pointer for the first time in 44 games and Wisconsin finished 4-of-19 from beyond the arc.

It was still enough to reach the next round against No. 2 Xavier or No. 15 Weber State, which played late Friday.

Pittsburgh had a chance to take the lead in the closing seconds when Hayes missed a 3-point try and James Robinson took the rebound the other way. Robinson's wild layup taken while surrounded by defenders bounced off the rim, Happ corralled the loose ball and the Badgers put the game away with three free throws.

"Got the rebound. It was about 2 seconds on the clock. Just tried to get a good shot," Robinson said, "and I just ran into my own teammate."

Jamel Artis led the Panthers with 13 points. Leading scorer Michael Young was held to six.

"You can be as good as you want," Pittsburgh coach Jamie Dixon said, "but you've got to win two in the first weekend, and you've got to make some plays. But certainly we were in position."

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Published: 07/21/18