The Washington Post
Wildcats make their second trip count
Boo Buie scored 22 points to lead Northwestern to a win in the school’s second appearance ever in the NCAA tournament, 75-67, over Boise State on Thursday night in Sacramento.
The seventh-seeded Wildcats (22-11) previously made it to the Big Dance in 2017, and just like that time, they made sure they wouldn’t be one-and-done.
“All joy. No relief. It’s really hard to get here, especially when you play in the Big Ten,” Northwestern Coach Chris Collins said. “When you get to this point now, it’s so rewarding and so joyful as a coach to see these guys celebrating and to be on the big stage like that playing well, finding a way to win and advance in the NCAA tournament.”
Northwestern never trailed in a game that was close most of the way and advanced to play UCLA in the second round of the West Region.
The 10th-seeded Broncos (24-10) are still searching for their first tournament win, losing their opener for the ninth time in as many tries. Max Rice scored 17 points to lead Boise State, and Naje Smith added 14.
“I don’t think anyone expected us to be here,” Rice said. “I still think it was an amazing season. Obviously we wanted to get our first win in the tournament. But they played good tonight. They played better than us tonight and made a bunch of big shots. But that doesn’t take away from what we’ve done this year.”
Chase Audige added 20 points for the Wildcats, and Ty Berry scored 13, including three threepointers.
The Bulldogs fell behind by 10 points early but fought back to tie the game at 40 early in the second half when Rice hit his second three-pointer of the half.
The game was tight most of the way before Northwestern finally built the lead back to 10 on a tip-in by Brooks Barnhizer with 3:15 to go.
ARKANSAS 73, ILLINOIS 63: Ricky Council IV scored 18 points, and the Razorbacks survived some anxious moments in the second half against an Illini team that wouldn’t go away, holding on for victory in the first round of the NCAA tournament in Des Moines.
Devo Davis had 16 points for the eighth-seeded Razorbacks, who used relentless defense and rebounding to build big leads but couldn’t get comfortable until the final minute. Arkansas (21-13) faces top-seeded Kansas on Saturday in the second round of the West Region.
Terrence Shannon Jr., held scoreless the first 16 minutes, finished with 20 points to lead the Illini (20-13). It was the first time in five tournament appearances since 2011 that Illinois didn’t make it out of the first round.
The Razorbacks were up by double digits in the middle of the first half, but no lead has been safe this season. In seven games they blew leads with scoring droughts of five minutes or longer.
That didn’t happen this time, though it looked as if it could when Arkansas failed to land what could have been the knockout punch with 21/ minutes to
2 play. Anthony Black (12 points, six rebounds) intercepted Coleman Hawkins’s cross-court pass, and Council missed the fast-break dunk when he would have been better served to lay it in. The blown play left Arkansas Coach Eric Musselman flailing his arms and screaming.
“We were in this position many times before,” Council said. “We would be up 10, up 12 at halftime, and it starts dwindling down, and the other team takes the lead. So just keep that mind-set we got to win the game. We all wanted to win and just keeping our foot on the gas and not giving up. Coach gave us positive energy, and we gave positive energy to each other, so we just didn’t let up. We ended up extending the lead.”
LLUCLA 86, UNC ASHEVILLE: In Sacramento, Jaime Jaquez Jr. scored 17 points and the Bruins raced out to a fast start and never looked back in a rout of the Bulldogs in the first round of the NCAA tournament.
The second-seeded Bruins (30-5) scored the first 14 points of the game and rolled from there. Amari Bailey also scored 17 points and David Singleton had 11.
UCLA advanced to play seventh-seeded Northwestern in the second round of the West Region.
Drew Pember scored 13 points for the 15th-seeded Bulldogs (27-8). UNC Asheville, which won the Big South regular season and tournament titles, has now lost all five times the school has advanced to the round of 64.