UNC-Asheville opens with overtime victory

Posted March 15, 2011, at 9:10 p.m.
Last modified March 16, 2011, at 12:19 a.m.

DAYTON, Ohio — Matt Dickey led a late run that brought overtime, and J.P. Primm hit five free throws and had a decisive steal in the closing seconds Tuesday night, sending North Carolina-Asheville to an 81-77 victory over Arkansas-Little Rock in a dramatic opening game for the NCAA tournament.

The Bulldogs (20-13) will play Pittsburgh, the top seed in the Southeast, on Thursday in Washington, D.C.

UNC Asheville opened the “First Four” with a late comeback led by its best player. The Bulldogs led for only 51 seconds in regulation, before Dickey asserted himself. He scored 14 of the Bulldogs’ last 18 points in regulation, including a 3 with 10.5 seconds to go that tied it.

Primm and Dickey had 22 points apiece.

Alex Garcia-Mendoza matched his career high with 21 points for the Arkansas-Little Rock Trojans (19-17).

Clemson 70, UAB 52

DAYTON, Ohio — Jerai Grant scored a career-best 22 points and fast-starting Clemson built a double-figure lead and never backed off in beating Alabama-Birmingham 70-52 on Tuesday night in an NCAA First Four game at the University of Dayton Arena.

In a matchup of No. 12 seeds, the Tigers (22-11) went on a 21-2 run in the first half and never let the big lead slip away, as they had in several recent games.

Clemson hurried out after the game to catch a flight to a second-round game against fifth-seeded West Virginia (20-11) on Thursday afternoon in Tampa, Fla.

Milton Jennings added 11 points and Tanner Smith and Devin Booker each had 10 for Clemson, picked to finish seventh in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

Jamarr Sanders had 19 and Dexter Fields 12 for UAB, regular-season champions of Conference USA.

NIT

Alabama 68, Coastal Carolina 44

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Tony Mitchell, Charvez Davis and Trevor Releford all scored 12 points to lead Alabama over Coastal Carolina.

The top-seeded Crimson Tide (22-11), which felt jilted at being left out of the NCAA field after winning the SEC West, built a 20-point lead late in the first half and never let the short-handed Chanticleers (28-6) get anything going.

Now 17-0 at Coleman Coliseum, Alabama will host either New Mexico or UTEP.

Mitchell came off the bench and hit back-to-back 3-pointers to help begin the rout, going 3 for 4 from beyond the arc.

Anthony Raffa and Chad Gray led Coastal Carolina with 10 points, but the Chanticleers managed a season low in points and shot 33 percent (16 of 48).

Leading scorer Desmond Holloway was suspended late in the season for an eligibility issue and point guard Kierre Greenwood was also lost in February to a season-ending knee injury.

Senario Hillman added 11 points for the Tide. Leading scorer JaMychal Green was mostly surrounded by defenders around the basket, but still finished 4 of 5 for nine points and collected 10 rebounds.

The Chanticleers had a 22-game winning streak during the regular season before losing half of their final eight.

Led by former Auburn coach Cliff Ellis, they still haven’t won a postseason game since beating Jackson State in an NCAA tournament play-in game in 1991 and are only 1-4.

Alabama scored 29 points off 19 turnovers and had 13 steals.

Oklahoma State 71, Harvard 54

STILLWATER, Okla. — Marshall Moses had 18 points and eight rebounds, and third-seeded Oklahoma State had its highest-scoring first half of the season in its victory over sixth-seeded Harvard.

Oklahoma State (20-13) scored 41 points in the first half and won an NIT game for the first time since 1997. The Cowboys had lost three straight from 2006 to 2008.

Reger Dowell went 6 for 7 from the field and scored 15 and Matt Pilgrim added 12 as six Cowboys scored six or more points.

Kyle Casey led Harvard (23-7) with 13 points, while Ivy League player of the year Keith Wright scored 10 and hit double figures for the 15th straight game. Laurent Rivard added 10 off the bench for Harvard, which scored its fewest points since managing 52 in a loss to Connecticut on Dec. 22.

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