Duke Is Left Out of NCAA Tournament Final 32 With Loss to Mercer

The men’s college basketball national tournament shrank to 32 teams, with regional No. 3 seed Duke University not among the weekend competitors after an upset loss to 14th-seeded Mercer University.

Stephen F. Austin used a late-game four-point play last night to become the third of four regional No. 12 seeds to advance in the National Collegiate Athletic Association tournament, eventually ousting fifth-seeded Virginia Commonwealth in overtime.

Regional top seeds Virginia, Arizona and Wichita State all advanced. Virginia got a scare, falling behind by 10 points in the first half before defeating Coastal Carolina 70-59. Arizona beat Weber State 68-59 and Wichita State stayed undefeated this season with a 64-37 defeat of Cal Poly.

Other winners yesterday were Kansas, Creighton, Iowa State, Stanford, North Carolina, Memphis, Gonzaga, Baylor, Tennessee, Kentucky and UCLA.

Among today’s games are a matchup between No. 12 seed Harvard and fourth-seeded Michigan State, and a meeting between overall top seed Florida and Pittsburgh, a No. 9 seed.

Jakob Gollon scored 20 points for Mercer as the Bears upset Duke 78-71 yesterday afternoon. Mercer, which has fewer tournament appearances (three) than Duke has titles (four), shot 56 percent from the floor and outscored Duke 20-8 over the final four minutes, 35 seconds.

‘Super Dogs’

“I told them before we ran out, let’s be super dogs,” Mercer coach Bob Hoffman said at a post-game news conference. “Everybody else thinks we’re underdogs. Let’s go get it.”

They did just that.

The Blue Devils shot 15-for-37 from 3-point range in the Midwest Region game and outrebounded Mercer 35-27, but were unable to overcome 12 turnovers and streaky shooting in Raleigh, North Carolina, about 26 miles (42 kilometers) from the Duke campus in Durham.

Mercer, of Macon, Georgia, tomorrow plays Tennessee. The Volunteers, who beat Iowa on March 19 to enter the round of 64, topped Massachusetts 86-67. Despite being a No. 11 seed, Tennessee was a 4 1/2-point favorite to beat UMass, according to Bovada.lv.

Duke’s athletic department had $72.9 million in revenue in the year ended June 2013, with the men’s basketball team accounting for $25.7 million, or 35 percent of that total, according to the U.S. Department of Education website. Mercer’s basketball team, which has just one alum who played in the NBA - - forward Sam Mitchell -- had $1.3 million in revenue over the same period.

‘Miracles Happen’

After the first day of the round of 64 had a record four overtime games, there was only one yesterday: Stephen F. Austin’s 77-75 win against VCU.

“Well, miracles truly do happen,” Stephen F. Austin coach Brad Underwood said at a post-game news conference.

VCU led Stephen F. Austin by 10 points with less than four minutes to play before the Lumberjacks staged a furious comeback to earn their first tournament game win.

Down four points, Desmond Haymon sank a 3-pointer with three seconds remaining in regulation and was fouled by VCU’s JeQuan Lewis. Haymon finished off the four-point play to tie the game and Stephen F. Austin held on in overtime for a 77-75 win.

“I was struggling shooting the ball, I knew in order to get it going I was going to have to continue to try and find it,” said Haymon, who scored 17 points. “I guess I found that groove with the last shot.”

Forward Jacob Parker scored 22 points to lead the Lumberjacks, who will play UCLA in the next round. The Bruins beat Tulsa 76-59.

Brackets Busted

Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. in January backed a $1 billion prize offered by Quicken Loans Inc. for an errorless bracket pool entry. The upset win by Dayton over Ohio State two days ago and Mercer’s defeat of Duke yesterday eliminated 99 percent of the brackets. When Memphis beat George Washington last night, the last of the perfect brackets was busted.

In San Antonio, No. 6 seed North Carolina led 11th-seeded Providence by nine points with about 11 minutes remaining in the game before the Friars scored 11 straight to grab the lead.

Down by five with four minutes remaining, North Carolina’s Marcus Paige made two 3-pointers in the closing minutes and teammate James Michael McAdoo sank two free throws in the closing seconds as the Tar Heels won 79-77.

Paige finished with 19 points while Providence guard Bryce Cotton had a career-high 36 in the loss.

UNC Poise

“We’ve been in a lot of close games and we’ve had deficits to overcome late,” Paige said in a televised post-game interview. I think that helped us. We stayed poised.’’

Doug McDermott had 30 points and 12 rebounds as No. 3 seed Creighton topped 14th-seeded Louisiana-Lafayette 76-66.

McDermott, the leading scorer in college basketball this season, scored 17 first-half points against Louisiana-Lafayette in San Antonio. He added six more early in the second half before being held without a basket for 14 minutes as Louisiana-Lafayette took the lead with about 11 minutes remaining.

Creighton’s Ethan Wragge then hit three 3-pointers and McDermott added seven points in the final three minutes as Creighton held on for the 10-point win. It’ll play Baylor in the round of 32.

“We got away with one today,” McDermott said at a post-game news conference. “We didn’t play our best to start the game, but we really showed our leadership.”

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