Belmont, FDU get first-ever NCAA wins
Loss was Dunphy’s last game at Temple
Kevin McClain scored a game-high 29 points Tuesday night, and center Nate Muszynski added 16 as Belmont put the Ohio Valley Conference’s first at-large bid in 32 years to good use, knocking off Temple 81-70 in a battle of East Region No. 11 seeds at the First Four in Dayton, Ohio.
The Bruins (27-5) advance to a first-round matchup Thursday in Jacksonville against sixth-seeded Maryland. Making the win even more impressive was that their leading scorer, 6-foot-8 Dylan Windler, hit just 2 of 7 shots and managed just five points.
Shizz Alston tallied 21 points to pace the Owls (23-10), while Nate Pierre-Louis had 13 points and 11 rebounds. Quinton Rose and J.P. Moorman II each added 10 points, but it wasn’t enough to keep coach Fran Dunphy on the sideline for one more game. Dunphy, who announced his pending retirement last spring, won 270 games in 13 years at Temple.
Temple ripped off a 21-5 run to grab a 52-47 lead with 11:26 left on a jumper by Pierre-Louis, but Belmont responded with a 16-3 burst. McClain ended it with a 3-pointer at the 6:12 mark to give the Bruins a 6355 advantage.
It was the first NCAA Tournament win for Belmont in eight tries, as well as the 805th career win in coach Rick Byrd’s 33-year career (713 of the victories coming with the Bruins).
Darnell Edge scored a career-high 33 points as Fairleigh Dickinson rallied from a 13-point second-half deficit to post an 82-76 victory over Prairie View A&M on Tuesday in the NCAA West Region play-in game in Dayton.
Fellow guard Jahlil Jenkins scored 20 of his 22 points in the second half as the 16th-seeded Knights (21-13) recorded their first NCAA Tournament victory in the program’s history. Northeast Conference champion Fairleigh Dickinson will face No. 1 seed Gonzaga (30-3) on Thursday in Salt Lake City.
Mike Holloway Jr. collected 10 points, 14 rebounds and four blocks, and Kaleb Bishop added 10 points and 11 boards as the Knights won their ninth straight game.
Gary Blackston scored 18 of his 27 points in the second half for Southwest Athletic Conference champion Prairie View A&M (22-13), which saw its 11-game winning streak halted and lost for just the second time in 23 contests since the calendar flipped to 2019.
Jenkins capped a sizzling 8 of 9 stretch from the field with a 3-pointer to give Fairleigh Dickinson a 68-66 lead with 4:28 remaining in the second half. Holloway scored from inside, and Edge drained a 3-pointer with three minutes to go as the Knights completed a 10-0 run to give the team its largest advantage of the game with a 73-66 lead.
Belmont’s Michael Benkert reacts to a play during the Bruins’ win over Temple in the First Four Tuesday.