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March Madness rolls on, but the 2013-14 college basketball season is over for the seven Massachusetts Division I teams. Harvard and UMass both took part in the NCAA Tournament, but with very different results, as the Crimson advanced to the Round of 32 while the Minutemen could never get their offense going and were one-and-done.
12th-seeded Harvard traveled to Spokane, Washington, where the Crimson upset fifth-ranked Cincinnati 61-57. Harvard built a seven-point halftime lead and managed to hold off the Bearcats in the second half, thanks in large part to a 43% field goal accuracy versus Cincinnati’s 36%. The Crimson was also more aggressive offensively, as evidenced by the free throw numbers: 17-for-28 (60%) for Harvard, 11-for-16 (68%) for Cincy.
Small forward Wesley Saunders, the Ivy League Player of the Year, led Harvard with 12 points on 4-of-9 shooting and four assists, while power forward Steve Moundou-Missi pulled down seven rebounds. Shooting guard Sean Kilpatrick scored 18 points on 6-of-13 field goals for the Bearcats, and big man Justin Jackson recorded a double-double with 13 points and 11 boards, with four blocks to boot.
It was Harvard’s second straight victory in the Round of 64 after its upset of New Mexico as a 14 seed last year, and also the second straight opening-round loss for Cincinnati.
With the win, Harvard advanced to face fourth-seeded Michigan State, which was coming off a comfortable win over Delaware. The Spartans took a 12-point lead into the half, but the Crimson stormed back from as many as 16 points down to take the lead with 7:12 to play. In the end, Michigan State prevailed 80-73 while shooting 49% from the floor to Harvard’s 41%.
Small forward Branden Dawson came up huge for the Spartans, shooting 12-for-15 and finishing the game with 26 points and nine rebounds. Michigan State also got solid contributions from guards Denzel Valentine (six assists) and Gary Harris (18 points, three steals). Saunders was once again the Crimson’s top scorer, with 22 points on 6-of-14 shooting, including 10-of-10 from the free throw line, with three steals of his own. Moundou-Missi had a double-double with 11 points and 10 boards.
The game may have been the last for Harvard head coach Tommy Amaker, who leads the list of candidates to replace the recently fired Steve Donahue at Boston College.
UMass, making its first March Madness appearance since 1998, stumbled into the tournament, having lost three of its last five Atlantic 10 games, and in their matchup against Tennessee, which was coming off a First Four win over Iowa, the Minutemen once again came up short in an 86-67 beatdown. The Volunteers started scorching hot on both ends and led by 19 at halftime. In the second period, the UMass offense came alive, but the Minutemen still couldn’t stop the Tennessee attack, which shot 53% for the game. The Vols also outrebounded UMass 36-24.
Power forward Jarnell Stokes had a big double-double with 26 points (7-of-11 field goals, 12-of-13 free throws) and 14 boards. Josh Richardson had 15 points and five dimes and four of the Vols’ starters scored in double digits. For Massachusetts, Cady Lalanne recorded eight points and seven boards and point guard Chaz Williams had 12 points and five assists.
Boston University went into the National Invitation Tournament following a horrific offensive performance in the Patriot League Tournament final against American University, but the Terriers seemed to put their woes behind them as they took a nine-point lead at halftime of their first-round game against Illinois. However, the BU defense came undone in the second half, allowing the Fighting Illini to rally for a 66-62 victory, as Illinois outrebounded BU 35-23 and ended up shooting 50%.
Shooting guard Rayvonte Rice scored 28 points on 11-of-14 field goals for the Illini. D. J. Irving led the Terriers with 17 points on 5-of-7 shooting, including 4-of-6 from downtown, and Maurice Watson, Jr., had a game-high 12 assists. With the loss, BU is now 0-6 all-time in the NIT.
Holy Cross inaugurated the 2014 CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament with a 68-65 win over Brown. The Crusaders led by 11 at the half but ended up having to fend off the Bears’ rally. Anthony Thompson scored 15 points, Dave Dudzinski had 10 with eight rebounds and Malcolm Miller added 10 with five assists in the win. For Brown, Leland King (18 points, 11 rebounds) and Cedric Kuakumensah (12 points, 12 rebounds, three blocks) had double-doubles.
The Crusaders advanced to face another Ivy League team, Yale, in the second round, and ended up losing 71-66 in a game that was close throughout. Justin Sears led the Bulldogs to victory with 18 points on 7-of-13 shooting and five blocks. Miller had 18 of his own for Holy Cross on 6-of-13 field goals, seven boards and three blocks.