Bison beaming after ousting Oklahoma

TIM BOOTH AP Sports Writer Published:

SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) -- The guys in green raced off the court and into the locker room where they danced and sang, compared whose shot was most likely to end up featured on "One Shining Moment," and checked Twitter to see who was giving them a shoutout.

North Dakota State pulled off yet another 12 seed stunner and enjoyed every moment of it.

"I just want to keep coaching this team," NDSU coach Saul Phillips said. "I don't want to have to say goodbye to this locker room."

Lawrence Alexander's 3-pointer with 11 seconds left forced overtime and Carlin Dupree came off the bench to score four unlikely points in the final 75 seconds of the extra session, and the Bison knocked off No. 5 seed Oklahoma 80-75 Thursday night.

NDSU (26-6) picked up its first NCAA tournament win by rallying in the final minute and outlasting the Sooners in overtime. Alexander finished with a career-high 28 points, but it'll be his falling-down, fist-pumping celebration after the tying 3-pointer that will be replayed in Fargo for years.

But that was just the first act. Dupree came on in the closing seconds of overtime after Taylor Braun fouled out, hit two free throws and scored on a difficult baseline leaner with 41 seconds left that put the Bison up by four and ignited the celebration.

Phillips ran over to the fans in green and yellow, threw his arms in the air and screamed at the top of his lungs. No one could hear the excitable North Dakota State coach with all the noise.

The Bison quickly realized they grabbed the nation's attention.

"You guys figure out how big it is," Phillips said. "I know it's very gratifying and I know that for guys like Lawrence and Carlin and everybody on this team, couldn't have happened to a more fitting group of guys, because they have done what it takes to be exactly where we are right now, year-round."

While players were monitoring Twitter to see who had been watching, the school's own athletic department account probably had the best line.

"We'll gladly be your Cinderella, America."

Except this Cinderella doesn't fit the traditional mold. These Bison are proven. They won at Notre Dame in the regular season. This is part of a progressive rise under Phillips since the Bison made their first tourney trip in 2009.

They have a swagger not typically seen from smaller programs, because the Bison don't see themselves that way.

Take Alexander. After releasing possibly the biggest shot of his career -- the tying 3 that forced overtime -- he hollered "buckets," so confident the shot would rattle through the net.

"That's a lot of confidence there big fella," Phillips said.

Cameron Clark led Oklahoma (23-10) with 25 points, including 16 in the final five minutes of regulation and overtime. Isaiah Cousins added 17 points and Jordan Woodward had 13, making up for leading scorer Buddy Hield being limited to nine points on 4 of 14 shooting.

"They fought, kind of out hustled us on rebounds and things like that, but overall they're a great team," Clark said.

Whenever the Bison needed a big shot, Alexander answered. With Braun bottled up by the Sooners defense, it fell to Alexander to pick up the scoring load. The most he scored all season was 20 points and his career-high came in 2011 as a freshman.

No basket was bigger than the 3 that forced overtime. Braun drove into the lane and was cut off. Alexander was his only option. After briefly struggling to get the handle, he rattled in his fourth 3-pointer of the game.

Oklahoma gave NDSU a chance at tying by twice missing foul shots in the final minute.

Oklahoma had chances to win in regulation getting off three shots. Hield's open 3 rimmed off, Woodward's free-throw line jumper was short and Cousins' reverse layup attempt at the buzzer never caught the rim.

NDSU scored the first four points of overtime on baskets by Bjorklund and Alexander, but Clark's 3 pulled Oklahoma even at 70.

Braun put the Bison ahead with 1:39 left 72-70 on a driving layup. After he fell to the court, Braun got tangled with Clark, who appeared to inadvertently kick Braun in the face. No additional fouls were called, but Braun fouled out seconds later reaching in as Clark attempted to shoot.

Clark hit both, but four seconds later Dupree -- a 58 percent free throw shooter -- hit a pair to put the Bison back in front. Following an Oklahoma miss, Dupree drove baseline and scored instead of running off time. It was the shot of an inexperienced freshman, but Phillips didn't mind.

"It was just a great experience for me," Dupree said.

EAST REGIONAL

HARVARD 61, CINCINNATI 57

SPOKANE, Wash. -- Siyani Chambers scored 11 points, including five straight in the final 2 minutes, and 12th-seeded Harvard won its second NCAA tournament game in history, upsetting fifth-seeded Cincinnati 61-57 in the East Regional.

Wesley Saunders led the Crimson (27-4) with 12 points as Harvard pulled off an upset for the second straight year. Last year, Harvard upset New Mexico as a 14 seed.

The Crimson became the first Ivy League school with NCAA tournament wins in consecutive years since Princeton in 1983-84.

Harvard never trailed after the opening moments. They played with confidence and scrap against the Bearcats, who shared the American Athletic Conference regular season title.

Sean Kilpatrick led Cincinnati (27-7) with 18 points, but the Bearcats failed to win a tournament game for the second straight year.

MICHIGAN ST. 93, DELAWARE 78

SPOKANE, Wash. -- Adreian Payne scored a career-high 41 points to get Michigan State off to a solid start in the NCAA tournament.

Payne, a 6-foot-10 senior, scored 12 straight points in the first half to help the fourth-seeded Spartans (27-8) to an 18-point lead.

He set an NCAA tournament record by making all 17 of his free throws and broke the program's tournament scoring record, set previously by Greg Kelser in 1979.

Devon Saddler had 21 points and Davon Usher added 20 for the 13th-seeded Blue Hens (25-10).

Travis Trice scored 13 of his 19 points in the second half for the Spartans.

UCONN 89, SAINT JOSEPH'S 81, OT

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Shabazz Napier shook off a miss at the second-half buzzer to score nine of his 24 points in overtime and lead seventh-seeded Connecticut to a win over Saint Joseph's in the second round of the NCAA tournament.

DeAndre Daniels scored 18 while freshman center Amida Brimah forced overtime by completing a three-point play in the final minute for UConn (27-8). The Huskies won their first tournament game under coach Kevin Ollie, who took over two years ago after Jim Calhoun stepped down due to health issues.

With the game tied at 70 entering overtime, Daniels opened the scoring by completed a three-point play with 3:47 left during a 5-minute period the Huskies never trailed.

Langston Galloway scored 25 points for Saint Joseph's (24-10). The Hawks wore down because of a lack of depth, and then lost their top forward Halil Kanacevic, who fouled out early into overtime.

SOUTH REGIONAL

SYRACUSE 77, W. MICHIGAN 53

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Syracuse's backcourt of Trevor Cooney and Tyler Ennis combined for 34 points and the Orange defense clamped down.

Western Michigan (23-10), the Mid-American Conference champion, had won 14 of 16 games and was in the NCAA tournament for the first time in a decade.

The third-seeded Orange (28-5) forced 11 turnovers in the opening half and scored 13 points off them in running out to a double-digit lead before the midpoint of the period.

Cooney led the Orange with 18 points, hitting 4 of 8 from beyond the arc, and Ennis had 16 points and six assists with one turnover.

The Orange used an 18-4 spurt over 10 minutes to take control and led 40-21 at halftime.

Shayne Whittington and Tucker Haymond led Western Michigan with 11 points apiece.

PITTSBURGH 77, COLORADO 48

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Talib Zanna scored 16 of his 18 points in the opening half, helping ninth-seeded Pittsburgh build a 28-point lead.

The Panthers (26-9) shot 51 percent and played stifling defense.

Colorado (23-12) was eager to make amends for an early exit from the tournament a year ago, but had no answers for the 6-foot-9 Zanna. The Pitt center made six of seven shots in the first half, and the Panthers didn't have any difficulty finishing off the overwhelmed Buffaloes.

Josh Scott led the eighth-seeded Buffaloes with 14 points, however Colorado couldn't overcome a subpar performance from Askia Booker.

FLORIDA 67, ALBANY 55

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Dorian Finney-Smith scored 16 points, most of them on dunks, and top-seeded Florida used a second-half surge to beat 16th-seeded Albany.

The Gators (33-2) showed some vulnerability, though, while extending their school-record winning streak to 27 games.

Coach Billy Donovan's team sleepwalked through the first half, swapping the lead back and forth with the pesky Great Danes, but Florida's bench provided a much-needed spark.

Finney-Smith, the Southeastern Conference's sixth man of the year, was 6-of-10 shooting. Freshman guard Kasey Hill, who wasn't sure he would be able to play because of turf toe, chipped in 10 points.

Patric Young finished with 10 points and 10 rebounds, his first double-double of the season. Casey Prather (16 points) and Scottie Wilbekin (10) also reached double figures for Florida.

DJ Evans led Albany (19-15) with 21 points and seven rebounds.

WEST REGIONAL

WISCONSIN 75, AMERICAN 35

MILWAUKEE -- Ben Brust scored 17 points and second-seeded Wisconsin devastated American with a 22-5 run to close the first half.

The second-seeded Badgers (27-7) recovered from a brief first-half rut and seven-point deficit to extinguish the dreams of the 15th-seeded Eagles (20-13).

After Wisconsin was ousted in the first round last year as a No. 5 seed, Brust made sure his senior season didn't end the same way. He attacked the glass for baskets on consecutive possessions, ending with a three-point play with 3:33 left in the first half to give Wisconsin a 23-20 lead.

The Badgers shot 57 percent from the field in the second half.

John Schoof had 11 points for American.

OREGON 87, BYU 68

MILWAUKEE -- Elgin Cook scored a career-high 23 points for seventh-seeded Oregon.

Joseph Young had 19 points for the Ducks (24-9), who had to stage a big comeback to beat the Cougars 100-96 in overtime in December. There was no comeback needed this time, with Oregon turning away every charge by BYU in the second half.

Cook, a native of Milwaukee, is the son of former NBA All-Star Alvin Robertson.

Tyler Haws scored 19 points for 10th-seeded BYU (23-12), which returned to the NCAA tournament after a one-year absence. Matt Carlino added 15 points.

MIDWEST REGIONAL

SAINT LOUIS 83, N.C. STATE 80, OT

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Rob Loe scored 22 points and grabbed 15 rebounds, helping St. Louis wipe out a late 14-point deficit and pull away in overtime to beat North Carolina State.

Jordair Jett overcame a slow start to score 18, doing most of his damage while the fifth-seeded Billikens (27-6) were making their comeback in the last five minutes of regulation.

Both teams shot horribly from the free-throw line, with Saint Louis shooting 12-for-26 and No. 12 seed NC State shooting 20-for-37.

T.J. Warren scored 28 points for the Wolfpack (22-14), but the Atlantic Coast Conference player of the year made just six of his 14 free throw attempts, including one that could have tied it in the final minute of OT.

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