11th-seeded NC State ends No. 14 Oakland’s tournament run in 2nd-round OT thriller

DJ Burns Jr. scored 24 points, including a go-ahead putback that ignited a 9-0 run in overtime, and 11th-seeded North Carolina State beat 14th-seeded Oakland 79-73 in the second round of the NCAA Tournament on Saturday night in Pittsburgh.

Powered by their versatile six-foot-nine, 275-pound forward, the Wolfpack (24-14) advanced to the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2015 by finally pulling away from three-point specialist Jack Gohlke and the Golden Grizzlies (24-12) in the extra period.

N.C. State will face either second-seeded Marquette and 10th-seeded Colorado in Dallas on Friday in the South Region semifinals.

Michael O’Connell had 12 points for the Wolfpack. DJ Horne and Casey Morsell added 11 apiece. Jayden Taylor came off the bench in overtime to hit a three-pointer that put N.C. State ahead by five.

Oakland, which ousted third-seeded Kentucky on Thursday, just missed becoming the first 14 seed to reach the Sweet 16 since Chattanooga in 1997.

Trey Townsend, the Horizon League Player of the Year, had 30 points and 13 rebounds for the Golden Grizzlies. Gohlke, who made 10 three-pointers against Kentucky, poured in six more 3s and finished with 22 points.

Gonzaga back to the Sweet 16

Gonzaga played a nearly perfect second half, busting open a back-and-forth game with a 15-0 run Saturday to pull away from Kansas for an 89-68 win in Salt Lake City and extend its nation-best streak of trips to the Sweet 16 to nine.

Anton Watson shot 8 for 11 for 21 points on an afternoon when basically everyone in a navy jersey was a star, especially after halftime.

The fifth-seeded Zags (27-7) made their first five three-pointers of the second half, not missing from long range until 1:30 remained and the game had long entered extended garbage time.

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Mark Few’s team will make its regular trip to the second weekend to play the winner of Sunday’s game between Purdue and Utah State.

Nolan Hickman finished with 17 points for the Zags, and big man Graham Ike had 15 points and nine rebounds, going toe to toe with KU’s Hunter Dickinson, who finished with a quiet 15 points. Making all the Bulldogs look good was Ryan Nembhard of Aurora, Ont., who blew off a rough shooting night (1 for 6) and finished with 12 assists.

While Gonzaga was cruising, parts of this looked painfully familiar to fans of the fourth-seeded Jayhawks (23-11), who have struggled with depth, shooting, consistency and injuries — leading scorer Kevin McCullar Jr. (knee) was out for the tournament. During Gonzaga’s 15-0 run, the Jayhawks missed 10 straight shots and never got within single digits again.

Illinois reaches Sweet 16 for 1st time since 2005

Terrence Shannon Jr. scored 30 points, Marcus Domask added 22 and No. 3 seed Illinois made fast work of 11th-seeded Duquesne in an 89-63 victory Saturday night to reach the NCAA Tournament’s Sweet 16 for the first time since 2005.

Illinois (28-8) hadn’t made it through the first weekend of the tournament in eight previous appearances, a maddening run of frustration the Illini ended in resounding fashion.

Quincy Guerrier of Montreal scored 10 points and added six rebounds for Illinois.

The Illini will play No. 2 seed Iowa State in an East Region semifinal in Boston on Thursday night. The Cyclones advanced with a 67-56 victory over seventh-seeded Washington State.

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Duquesne (25-12), which came in on a nine-game win streak, had its first tournament appearance since 1977 end with its worst loss of the season that sent 65-year-old coach Keith Dambrot into retirement.

Jimmy Clark III scored 14 points and Fousseyni Drame had 13 for Duquesne.

The Dukes, who had scored fewer than 70 points in 21 of their previous 36 games, had said they would have to slow down an Illinois team averaging better than 84 per game to have a chance.

How did that go? Illinois was off and running in transition on Duquesne misses. The Illini led 50-26 at the half and by 32 points midway through the second half.

Not that the Illini needed it, but they also got a couple friendly bounces. Like when Marcus Domask’s first 3-pointer went high off the front and back of the rim before it dropped through — a basket he celebrated with a chef’s kiss and three fingers in the air. Or when Hawkins tried to draw a foul as he awkwardly put up a 3 and the ball banged off the backboard without drawing iron and he chased it down for an easy putback.

Hawkins blew a kiss himself after one of his back-to-back 3s midway through the first half. By then it was pretty much over. The Illini’s 24-point halftime lead was their second-largest of the season and was the Dukes’ biggest deficit at the break since they were down 27 against Kentucky in 2016.

Dambrot ends his career with a 529-305 record in 26 seasons, including 441-269 at Division I schools Duquesne, Central Michigan and Akron.

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