The NCAA tournament started with the First Four games last night. Texas Southern, Drake, Norfolk State, and UCLA proceeded to the next stage after respective victories.
In the most interesting match of the night, UCLA Bruins beat the Michigan State Spartans, 86-80, but only after overtimes, during which we saw only 12 points, 9-3.
Jaime Jaquez Jr. scored 27 buckets for the Bruins, 11-for-20 from the field, while Johnny Juzang added 23. The two were unsolvable enigma for the Spartans, who were up 14 points during the first half. Yet, as time went by they slowly began losing pace, and even though they held the lead until the last moments of the event, the Spartans suffered a terrible blow here.
Aaron Henry added 16 points for MSU, Joshua Langford had 12. Up next, the Bruins take on Brigham Young.
In the battle of two 16th seeded teams, Texas Southern Tigers were better than the Mount St. Mary’s Mountaineers, 60-52, following a fantastic second 20 minutes during which they outscored the rivals, 40-22. John Walker III was the leading scorer among the winners with 19 points and nine boards, and Jordan Gilliam helped with 12.
On the losing side, Damian Chong Qui scored 14, Mezie Offurum added 10 but with 16 rebounds. No.1 Michigan Wolverines are going to be the next rivals of the Tigers.
After 50 years of waiting, Drake won one NCAA tournament game. The Bulldogs beat Wichita State 53-52 after a wild ending in which Wichita had a shoot for the win. It was a memorable achievement for Drake, whose last win came on March 18, 1971, against Notre Dame.
The Bulldogs had a superb start of the season, having 18 wins in a row before the season had to be paused due to COVID-19 circumstances. In the meantime, they would lose two superb players, Roman Penn and ShanQuan Hemphill, which makes this win even greater.
Joseph Yesufu led the team with 21 buckets, while Darnell Brodie did all the dirty work with nine points and 10 boards.
On the other side, Morris Udeze had a game-high in scoring, 22 points, with four boards. Dexter Dennis scored 13 for the Shockers. Drake meets USC Trojans next.
Finally, Norfolk State Spartans edged out Appalachian State Mountaineers, 54-53, in another thrilling match of Thursday’s program. Devante Carter scored from the free-throw line with 8.6 to go, securing the lead for his team, while on the other side, the Mountaineers had two game-winning tries, and none would go in.
Jalen Hawkins was the hero of the Spartans with 24 points off the bench, hitting four threes. Justin Forrest was the best among the Mountaineers, dropping 18 buckets.
They meet the No.1 seed Gonzaga Bulldogs later on.