NCAA Tournament: East Regional Roundup
Published 12:00 am Friday, March 20, 2009
PHILADELPHIA ó A long way from home, UCLA barely kept alive its quest for a fourth straight trip to the Final Four.
VCU’s Eric Maynor missed a contested 17-footer at the buzzer and the sixth-seeded Bruins held on for a 65-64 victory over the Rams on Thursday night in the first round of the East Regional.
UCLA (26-8) advances to play Villanova (27-7) on Saturday.
Josh Shipp scored 16, Jrue Holiday had 13 and three other Bruins scored in double figures.
Maynor led Virginia Commonwealth with 21 points. The Rams (24-10) from the Colonial Athletic Conference were a popular pick to pull off a 6-11 upset against the Pac-10 powerhouse ó even President Barack Obama circled VCU in his bracket.
But UCLA wasn’t ready to go home.
Trailing 63-60 with 1:19 left, VCU pulled within a point on a pair of free throws by Bradford Burgess.
Villanova 80, American 67
PHILADELPHIA ó Dwayne Anderson and Dante Cunningham each scored 25 points, and Villanova rallied back from a 14-point hole to beat upset-minded American 80-67.
The third-seeded Wildcats (27-7) lost their home-court advantage and nearly lost the game, needing a late 19-2 run in the East Regional to fend off the Patriot League champions.
The 14th-seeded Eagles (24-8) sizzled from 3-point range early and pushed Villanova to the brink of a monumental upset. They just didn’t have enough left in their tired legs down the stretch.
The loss ended the Eagles’ 13-game winning streak, the second-longest in the country.
Texas 76, Minnesota 62
GREENSBORO ó Once A.J. Abrams found his shot, Texas was ready to leave its recent struggles behind and move on in the NCAA tournament.
Abrams hit eight 3-pointers and scored 26 points to help Texas beat Minnesota 76-62. Damion James added 18 points and nine rebounds for the seventh-seeded Longhorns (23-11).
Lawrence Westbrook scored 19 points for the 10th-seeded Golden Gophers (22-11), who were making their first tournament appearance since 2005.