OMAHA, Neb. — Welcome to the NCAA tournament, Norfolk State. Might as well stick around a while.
Kyle O’Quinn had 26 points and 14 rebounds, making several key plays in the closing minutes, and the gritty No. 15 seed Spartans held on through a tense final minute to topple second-seeded Missouri 86-84 on Friday in the West Regional.
Pendarvis Williams and Chris McEachin each added 20 points for the MEAC champion Spartans (26-9), who made their first trip to the NCAA tournament a memorable one. They became the fifth No. 15 seed to beat a No. 2 and the first since fellow conference member
Hampton in 2001.
O’Quinn had a chance to take some of the drama out of the finish when he went to the free throw line with 3.8 seconds to go, but the 70-percent foul shooter missed both tries.
Missouri coach Frank Haith called a timeout with 2.9 seconds left to set up a final play, and the ball wound up in the hands of Phil Pressey. He took a couple of hard dribbles and let loose a 3-pointer from the wing that clanked off the back iron as the buzzer sounded.
O’Quinn leaped for joy. Pressey fell to the court in disbelief.
And the roar that rose inside CenturyLink Arena from anybody wearing anything other than black and gold may have drowned out the sound of brackets getting torn up all over America.
Michael Dixon led Missouri (30-5) with 22 points, and Pressey and fellow guard Marcus Denmon finished with 20 points each. Pressey also contributed eight assists.
The Tigers rolled into the tournament on the strength of a dominant run to the Big 12 tournament title, rarely getting tested in three games in Kansas City. That was enough to make Missouri a trendy Final Four pick, something the school had never before accomplished.
Norfolk State made sure it wouldn’t happen this year, either. The plucky Spartans shot 54.2 percent from the field — 62.5 percent in the second half — and managed to knock down 10 of 19 3-point shots. They also turned the ball over just 11 times against the Tigers’ quick-handed guards, who had caused fits for most teams this season.
Missouri spent nearly the entire 20-minute break in its locker room. The Spartans were back on the court before it was even half over.
Source: Associated Press