Arizona State wins NCAA Tournament opener

Luguentz Dort overcame a hard foul and a leg injury to score 21 points as Arizona State defeated St. John’s 74-65 in an NCAA Tournament First Four game Wednesday in Dayton, Ohio.

The 11th-seeded Sun Devils (23-10) will play Mid-American Conference champion Buffalo on Friday in a West Region first-round game.

Shamorie Ponds scored 25 points for St. John’s (21-13), which hasn’t won an NCAA Tournament game since 2000.

Arizona State’s physical defense was a factor early as the Sun Devils forced St. John’s to miss 17 of its first 23 shots and took an 18-point lead . A technical foul on head coach Bobby Hurley as he argued a blocking foul with 25 seconds left in the half helped St. John’s trim its deficit to 38-25.

Ponds had a steal and dunk as St. John’s cut the lead to 40-33 early in the second half while Dort was on the bench getting his lower right leg treated. The freshman guard landed hard after extending for a rebound and getting fouled.

North Dakota State 78, North Carolina Central 74: Vinnie Shahid sank three foul shots in the last eight seconds to help the Bison (19-15) hold off the Eagles (18-16) in Dayton in an NCAA Tournament game between two No. 16 seeds. North Dakota State advances in the East Region to face top-seeded Duke on Friday.


Norfolk State 80, Alabama 79: Derrik Jamerson Jr. scored 25 points, including two on free throws with 17 seconds left in overtime, as the Spartans (22-13) defeated the host Crimson Tide (18-16) in a first-round game. Alabama had forced overtime when John Petty hit a tying 3-pointer with 20 seconds left in regulation. Norfolk State will play at Colorado on Monday.

TCU 82, Sam Houston State 69: JD Miller had 15 points to lead six Horned Frogs in double figures as host TCU (21-13) defeated the Bearkats (21-12). TCU will host Nebraska on Sunday.

Nebraska 80, Butler 76: Isaiah Roby scored 28 points to lead the host Cornhuskers (19-16) past the Bulldogs (16-17).

Harvard 71, Georgetown 68: Bryce Aiken, who scored 18 points, hit two free throws with 14 seconds left to help the Crimson (19-11) top the host Hoyas (19-14). Salesian-Richmond alum James Akinjo had 15 points for Georgetown. Harvard will play at North Carolina State on Sunday.

Wichita State 76, Furman 70: Markis McDuffie scored 20 points and Jordan Lyons added 19 as the visiting Shockers (20-14) defeated the Paladins (25-8). Wichita State will play at Clemson on Sunday.

Xavier 78, Toledo 64: Naji Marshall had 20 points and 21 rebounds as the host Bearcats (19-15) topped the Rockets (25-8). Xavier will play at Texas on Sunday.

Briefly: Syracuse senior guard Frank Howard, who is averaging 8.9 points and two assists per game, is out “for an indefinite period of time” for violating school policy, the school said. The suspension was levied on the eve of the Orange’s NCAA Tournament opener against Baylor. … Former Cal head coach Todd Bozeman is out at Morgan State, where he posted a 195-218 record in 13 seasons on the bench. Morgan State was 9-21 this season, including 4-12 in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference. … The University of San Diego said former head coach Lamont Smith was the previously unnamed “varsity coach” alleged to have taken a kickback in what federal authorities called the largest college-admissions cheating scam ever prosecuted in the United States. The school said it was able to publicly identify Smith on Wednesday only after the U.S. Department of Justice modified a confidentiality order. Smith resigned last March, 10 days after he was arrested for investigation of domestic violence the day after the regular-season finale in San Francisco. No charges were filed. … In a College Basketball Invitational first-round game in Riverside, Mattias Markusson had 13 points as Loyola Marymount (21-11) prevailed 56-55 over Cal Baptist (16-15).


WNIT: Yasmine Robinson-Bacote had 31 points and 15 rebounds to lead Pepperdine (21-11) to a 91-79 win over host Cal Baptist (18-12) in a first-round game. … Valerie Higgins scored 20 points to lead six Pacific players in double figures as the visiting Tigers (19-12) won 77-72 over Fresno State (19-13).

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