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Wolverines survive Tulsa, advance in March Madness

DAYTON, Ohio -- Zak Irvin scored 16 points, including the go-ahead 3-pointer with 53 seconds remaining, lifting Michigan to a 67-62 victory over Tulsa in an NCAA Tournament preliminary-round matchup Wednesday at University of Dayton Arena.The 11t...

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Michigan Wolverines guard Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman, right, works around Tulsa Golden Hurricane guard Marquel Curtis during the first half in the First Four of the NCAA tournament at Dayton Arena. (Photo by Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports)

DAYTON, Ohio - Zak Irvin scored 16 points, including the go-ahead 3-pointer with 53 seconds remaining, lifting Michigan to a 67-62 victory over Tulsa in an NCAA Tournament preliminary-round matchup Wednesday at University of Dayton Arena.
The 11th-seeded Wolverines (23-12) advance to face sixth-seeded Notre Dame on Friday in New York.
Tulsa and Michigan entered the NCAA Tournament with what many believed to be flimsy resumes. Both teams battled for their postseason lives Wednesday night in a game that featured 16 lead changes and nine ties.
Michigan, which led the Big Ten Conference in 3-point efficiency, struggled from beyond the arc, as did Tulsa. The Wolverines finished 6 for 25 from long range, while Tulsa hit just three of 15 3-point attempts.
However, with the Wolverines trailing 60-59 and less than a minute left, Irvin delivered the game-winner.
Senior guard Shaquille Harrison scored 23 points for Tulsa, which had a season-low 20 points in the first half but rallied after halftime.
The Golden Hurricane (20-12) outscored Michigan 16-8 to begin the second half.
Michigan had a 23-16 rebounding advantage in the first half. However, after Harrison’s follow dunk that tied the score 36-36, the Wolverines led just 25-23 in the rebounding battle.
Harrison later slammed home a delivery from guard Rashad Ray to put Tulsa ahead 42-41 with fewer than 10 minutes remaining.
A 7-0 run put Michigan ahead 51-45 with seven minutes left.
Harrison’s layup put the Golden Hurricane ahead before Irvin sank the decisive 3-pointer.
Tulsa guard Pat Birt missed a potential game-tying shot, and Wolverines guard Derrick Walton Jr. hit a pair of free throws to help seal the outcome.
Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman matched Irvin by scoring 16 points for Michigan. Forward Duncan Robinson had 13, and Walton finished with 12.
The Wolverines couldn’t find the basket early on, going 3 for 16 from the floor and 1 for 7 from 3-point range in the first 10 minutes.
Forward Rashad Smith’s jumper capped an 8-0 run to put Tulsa ahead 16-9.
Michigan responded with an 11-2 run prompting chants of “Let’s Go Blue” amid a smattering of boos in the home state of the rival Ohio State Buckeyes.
Walton’s 3-pointer dropped through the net after a few bounces, putting Michigan ahead 25-18.
He hit another 3-pointer just before halftime to put the Wolverines ahead 28-20 at the break despite going 4 for 18 from beyond the arc. Walton scored 10 points in the half.
Holy Cross holds off Southern
DAYTON - For much of this season, Holy Cross found it difficult to close out wins. But in March, the Crusaders have been at their best when the game is on the line.
“It goes back to our toughness mentally that we don’t cave in those situations,” said junior guard Robert Champion.
Champion was the hero on Wednesday night, scoring 19 points, including the go-ahead 3-pointer with 57 seconds left, helping Holy Cross defeat the Southern Jaguars 59-55 in an NCAA West Regional preliminary-round game at University of Dayton Arena.
It was the Crusaders’ first NCAA Tournament victory since 1953 and a pair of free throws by Champion helped seal it with 14 seconds left.
“It’s a dream come true,” Champion said. “Everybody dreams of making that shot. But the ‘3’ was set up before I even took it. (Forward) Malachi (Alexander) made a great play to get me open. It was just a practice shot for me.”
Despite entering the tournament with a losing record, the Crusaders (15-19) advanced to face top-seeded Oregon on Friday in Spokane by winning the battle of No. 16 seeds.
“We packed for the weekend,” said Holy Cross guard Anthony Thompson, who scored 12 points. “You have to expect to win.”
Another lengthy NCAA Tournament victory drought continued on Wednesday as Southern (22-13) failed to record its first win since 1993.
Guard Adrian Rodgers scored 14 points and Shawn Prudhomme added 10 for the Jaguars, who rallied from an early 12-point deficit but went 3 of 20 from 3-point range.
Holy Cross went without a field goal for the first four minutes of the second half and Southern began attacking its zone.
“It took us a little time to find our rhythm in that 1-3-1 they play,” said Jaguars coach Roman Banks. “I thought we had some good looks. They just put enough pressure on us that we didn’t shoot well.”
Rodgers scored seven straight points, including a baseline jumper that gave the Jaguars their first lead, 28-27.
Holy Cross surged back ahead 38-33 on freshman guard Matt Zignorski’s 3-pointer.
But the Crusaders committed 14 turnovers for the game and some of those sparked another Southern rally.
“They were playing zone for two passes then going man-to-man, and it sort of threw us,” said Holy Cross coach Bill Carmody.
Guard Christopher Hyder scored six points during a 9-0 run, putting the Jaguars ahead 42-38.
Southern was 0 for 12 from 3-point range before Prudhomme connected from beyond the arc to put Southern ahead 49-48.
Champion hit a 3-pointer to put the Crusaders ahead 55-52 with 57 seconds left.
The Jaguars then went 2 of 3 from 3-point range, including one by Rodgers, to cut their deficit to 57-55, with 24 seconds left.
But Champion sealed the win at the free throw line.
The Crusaders took an early lead in the first half, hitting five of their first eight shots.
Champion’s 3-pointer put the Crusaders ahead 12-4 six minutes into the game.
Meanwhile, Southern, which averages 73 points per game, was cold out of the gate, missing nine of its first 11 shots.
The Crusaders went scoreless for more than four minutes in the first half, but the Jaguars failed to take advantage, going 1-for-8 in that same stretch.
Alexander’s 3-pointer broke the field-goal drought, putting Holy Cross ahead 18-7.
“They made some timely baskets that hurt us,” Banks said. “They shoot the basketball very well and they proved that tonight.”
Champion and Alexander each scored seven points and combined to go 3 of 5 from 3-point range for the Crusaders in the half.
Southern trailed by as many as 12 points in the first half but erupted for a 9-0 run just before halftime, capped by three straight free throws by Prudhomme after he was fouled attempting a 3-point shot.
There were 10 lead changes in the second half, but the Crusaders hit the key shots down the stretch.
“It’s fantastic,” said Carmody of the win. “We’re trying to jump-start this program. This is a great first step.”

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