Mercer guard Ike Nwamu moves the ball against Duke forward Amile Jefferson (21) during the second half Friday in Raleigh, N.C.
RALEIGH, N.C. — Daniel Coursey scored 17 points and Mercer pulled off the biggest upset in the NCAA tournament so far by knocking off Duke 78-71 Friday.
Jakob Gollon added 20 points for the 14th-seeded Bears.
The senior-laden Bears were simply too much for a Duke team with stars Rodney Hood and freshman Jabari Parker.
Mercer scored 11 straight points during the late 20-5 run that clinched the biggest victory in school history. It’s the second one-and-done in three years for the third-seeded Blue Devils.
Mercer won the Atlantic Sun conference championship. That’s the same league that produced 2013 tournament darling Florida Gulf Coast.
Quinn Cook scored 23 points, Rasheed Sulaimon added 20 and those two guards combined for 12 of Duke’s season-high-tying 15 3-pointers.
But the Blue Devils’ defense — an uncharacteristic weakness all season — did them in again while all those Mercer seniors picked Duke apart down the stretch.
Duke went up 63-58 with 4:52 left after Parker converted a three-point play and Tyler Thornton hit three free throws.
Duke didn’t score again until the final minute.
Coursey countered by rattling in a jumper in the lane, and after two empty possessions for Duke, some slick ball rotation by Mercer set up an open 3 from Anthony White Jr. that tied it at 63 with 2½ minutes left.
Hood picked up his fourth foul on the Bears’ next possession and Gollon hit two free throws to put Mercer ahead for good.
By that point, Duke — in the midst of an untimely run of empty possessions — could do nothing right. Parker missed a 3-pointer in traffic before Hood was called for walking, leading White to give a fist-pump to the Mercer fans who stood all day.
Stephen F. Austin 77, VCU 75 (OT)
SAN DIEGO — Desmond Haymon scored on an improbable four-point play with 3.6 seconds in regulation and hit a big 3-pointer in overtime to lead No. 12 seed Stephen F. Austin to a 77-75 win over fifth-seeded Virginia Commonwealth Friday night in the NCAA tournament’s South Region.
VCU (23-10) was firmly in control for most of the second half before SFA (32-2) rallied in the closing seconds.
Haymon hit one of the biggest — and most improbable — shots of what’s already been a wild March, knocking down a 3-pointer and a free throw after being fouled by Jordan Burgess at the end of regulation.
Haymon hit another 3-pointer to put SFA up with 2 minutes left, but VCU had a final shot after Thomas Walkup missed 1 of 2 free throws with 14 seconds left. JeQuan Lewis got an open 3-pointer, but it went long and SFA snared the rebound.
North Carolina 79, Providence 77
SAN ANTONIO — James Michael McAdoo sank two free throws in the final 3.5 seconds, and No. 6 seed North Carolina rallied to beat 11th-seeded Providence 79-77 Friday night.
Providence’s Bryce Cotton scored a career-high 36 points and made one dazzling shot after another down the stretch. But he also fumbled a long rebound in the final moments, robbing the Friars of a chance for a last-second miracle.
Had North Carolina (24-9) lost, it would’ve been the first time since 1979 the Tar Heels and rival Duke lost on the same day of the tournament.
The Blue Devils fell earlier to 14th-seeded Mercer, and the Friars nearly handed North Carolina a similar stunner.
Marcus Paige led North Carolina with 19 points.
Wichita State 64, Cal Poy 37
ST. LOUIS — Cleananthony Early had 23 points and unbeaten Wichita State faced no resistance from Cal Poly, going to 35-0 for the best start in NCAA history with a 64-37 rout of Cal Poly in the Midwest Region on Friday night.
The Shockers (35-0) dominated from the tip-off against the only team with a sub-.500 record in the tournament. With the exception of Early, most of the glaring numbers were on defense. The losers managed 13 points in the first half and shot 21 percent.
Malik Love had nine points for Cal Poly (14-20), which won the Big West tournament as the No. 7 seed and beat Texas Southern in First Four game before being held to a season low for points. Chris Eversley, the Big West tourney MVP and coming off a 19-point game, was held to six points on 2-for-14 shooting.
Memphis 71, George Washington 66
RALEIGH, N.C. — Michael Dixon Jr. scored 19 points and hit four free throws in the final 10 seconds to help Memphis hold off George Washington 71-66 on Friday night in the second round of the East Regional.
Joe Jackson added 15 points for the eighth-seeded Tigers (24-9). They entered the tournament having lost three of five to fall out of the national rankings, and shot 49 percent in this one but struggled to put the ninth-seeded Colonials away until the final seconds.
Isaiah Armwood scored a season-high 21 points after playing the final 12 minutes with four fouls for ninth-seeded GW (24-9), which was just 2 of 12 from 3-point range yet never fell behind by more than 10 points.
Leading scorer Maurice Creek — who averages 14 points — finished with nine on 2-of-13 shooting for GW, but he airballed a 3-pointer in the final seconds that would have tied it.
Gonzaga 85, Oklahoma State 77
SAN DIEGO — Kevin Pangos scored 26 points and Gary Bell Jr. added 17 for eighth-seeded Gonzaga, which beat Marcus Smart and the ninth-seeded Oklahoma State Cowboys 85-77 in the West region of the NCAA tournament on Friday.
The Bulldogs (29-6), in their 16th straight NCAA tournament, will play top-seeded Arizona on Sunday.
The refs called 61 fouls, and five players fouled out. Pangos made 12 of 14 free throws, most of them in the closing minutes.
Smart had 23 points, 13 rebounds, seven assists and six steals for Oklahoma State (21-13). He is projected to be a high NBA draft pick. He passed up the NBA draft last year. The Cowboys won five of seven games coming in, a run that coincided with Smart’s returning from a three-game suspension for shoving a Texas Tech fan.
Kansas 80, Eastern Kentucky 69
ST. LOUIS — Andrew Wiggins scored 19 points, Jamari Traylor and Perry Ellis had double-doubles and second-seeded Kansas pulled away down the stretch to beat pesky Eastern Kentucky 80-69 on Friday in the second round of the NCAA tournament.
Traylor finished with 17 points and 14 rebounds, and Ellis had 14 points and 13 boards for the Jayhawks (25-9), who trailed 56-53 with 9 minutes to go before their game-ending charge.
They advanced to play No. 10 seed Stanford, a 58-53 winner over seventh-seeded New Mexico, on Sunday in the third round of the South Regional.
Glenn Cosey hit five 3-pointers and had 17 points for the 15th-seeded Colonels (24-10), the Ohio Valley Conference champions. Tarius Johnson and Eric Stutz finished with 15 points apiece.
Creighton 76, Louisiana-Lafayette 66
SAN ANTONIO — Doug McDermott scored 30 points and third-seeded Creighton got three huge 3-pointers in the second half from Ethan Wragge to beat No. 14 Louisiana-Lafayette 76-66 Friday in the West Regional.
McDermott had a double-double by halftime but went scoreless for nearly 14 minutes of the second half, leaving it to Wragge’s long shots to bail out the Bluejays from a potential upset by Ragin’ Cajuns, who attacked Creighton (27-7) with fearless defense and rebounding.
Sun Belt tournament champion Louisiana-Lafayette (23-12) led 50-48 before Wragge struck from long range to turn momentum.
The win means the Creighton family keeps marching on its final days together. McDermott, the nation’s leading scorer, opted against going to the NBA after last season to play one more year with his father, Creighton coach Greg McDermott.
Tennessee 86, Massachusetts 67
RALEIGH, N.C. — Jarnell Stokes scored a career-high 26 points and grabbed 14 rebounds to help Tennessee beat Massachusetts 86-67 on Friday in the second round of the NCAA tournament.
Jordan McRae added 21 points for the Volunteers (23-12), the No. 11 seed in the Midwest Regional. Tennessee had little trouble with the sixth-seeded Minutemen (24-9), shooting 54 percent from the field and handling UMass’ fullcourt pressure in a surprisingly one-sided performance that included another solid defensive showing.
The Vols are in the NCAAs for the first time in three seasons, starting with a First Four overtime win against Iowa. Now they are headed to Sunday’s third round to face 14th-seeded Mercer, who upset Duke in Friday.
Chaz Williams and Maxie Esho scored 12 points each for UMass in its first NCAA appearance since 1998. But the Minutemen fell behind by double figures early, trailed by 20 points before halftime and never got closer than 10 again.
Arizona 68, Weber State 59
SAN DIEGO — Arizona avoided becoming the latest and biggest upset victim in an NCAA tournament that’s been filled with them.
The Wildcats will have to play a little better if they want to keep going in the bracket.
Nick Johnson scored 18 points, Aaron Gordon added 16 and top-seeded Arizona overcame a shaky start and a late run by Weber State to beat the Wildcats 68-59 in the West Regional on Friday.
The first full day of the tournament was a wild one filled with upsets, and the bracket-busting trend continued early Friday, when Mercer, a No. 14 seed, knocked off mighty Duke.
Arizona (31-4) appeared to be next in line, falling into an 8-point hole in the opening 6 minutes. Arizona closed in around Weber State (19-12), shutting down the Wildcats during two big first-half runs, seemingly putting the fairytale to bed.
Comfortably ahead, Arizona let off the gas late, allowing Weber State to trim a 21-point lead down to nine before pulling it out.
Solid, but not great, particularly since the next game — against Gonzaga or Oklahoma State on Sunday — is the spot the Wildcats have been picked to go down.
Stanford 58, New Mexico 53
ST. LOUIS — Chasson Randle scored 23 points and No. 10 seed Stanford made an impression in its first NCAA appearance since 2008, leading almost start to finish in a 58-53 victory over seventh-seeded New Mexico on Friday.
The Cardinal (22-12) built an early 16-point lead then held on after New Mexico rallied to tie it midway through the second half. They got four crucial free throws from reserve Robbie Lemons and Randle in the final half-minute after New Mexico had cut the deficit to two points. They will play the Eastern Kentucky-Kansas winner on Sunday in the third round.
Cameron Bairstow had 24 points and eight rebounds but the Lobos (27-7) got off-days from their other top threats. Kendall Williams and Alex Kirk, who together average 30 points, combined for just six.
Baylor 74, Nebraska 60
SAN ANTONIO — Cory Jefferson scored 16 points and No. 6 seed Baylor kept 11th-seeded Nebraska winless in its NCAA tournament history with a 74-60 second-round victory Friday.
The Bears (25-11) kept up a two-month tear and will play either No. 3 seed Creighton or No. 14 seed Louisiana-Lafayette on Sunday. Baylor has won 11 of 13 after a dismal start in the Big 12, recapturing the kind of momentum that vaulted the Bears to the Elite Eight in 2010 and 2012.
Terran Petteway scored 18 points for Nebraska (19-13), which fell to 0-7 in tournament history.
The Cornhuskers hadn’t played on this stage since 1998 and often looked like it. Frustration boiled over for Big Ten coach of the year Tim Miles, who was ejected with 11 minutes left.
Virginia 70, Coastal Carolina 59
Anthony Gill scored 17 points to help No. 1 seed Virginia pull away late and beat Coastal Carolina, avoiding a historic upset.
The Cavaliers trailed by 10 in the first half and five at halftime to the 16th-seeded Chanticleers before pushing ahead for good with about 9 minutes left.
A No. 16 seed has never beaten a No. 1 since the tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1985, and the Cavs (29-6) ensured history would wait at least another year.
Evan Nolte came off the bench and hit two huge 3-pointers to help Virginia finally push away from the Big South champion Chanticleers (21-13), who were in the tournament for the first time in 21 years.
The game was tied at 47 before Nolte’s 3s powered a 23-7 spurt that finally put the game away.
Virginia advanced to Sunday’s third round to face No. 8 seed Memphis.
Iowa State 93, NC Central 75
SAN ANTONIO (AP) — Georges Niang scored 24 points, but also broke his foot and will miss the rest of the NCAA tournament, as No. 3 seed Iowa State pulled away from 14th-seeded North Carolina Central in the second half.
The Big 12 tournament champions found themselves in an early struggle with a program making its first NCAA tournament appearance in just its third year as a full-time Division I program. But the Cyclones’ quickness and balance eventually took over.
Iowa State (27-7) had five players score in double figures. Niang’s two 3-pointers early in the second half keyed the run that put the game away.
After the game, the Cyclones announced on Twitter: “Georges Niang has a foot fracture and will miss the remainder of the season.”
Jeremy Ingram scored 28 for North Carolina Central (28-6), which came in on a 20-game win streak and won the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference.
UCLA 76, Tulsa 59
SAN DIEGO (AP) — Jordan Adams had 21 points and eight rebounds, and Norman Powell scored 15 points in his hometown to lead fourth-seeded UCLA to a 76-59 victory over 13th-seeded Tulsa on Friday night, spoiling the NCAA tournament head coaching debut of Danny Manning.
In his first year at Westwood, Steve Alford coached the Bruins to just their third win in the NCAA tournament since 2009. It came in the city where John Wooden won the last of his 10 national championships, in 1975.
Tulsa (21-13) had its 11-game winning streak snapped. Manning led Kansas to the 1988 title and won another championship as a Jayhawks assistant coach six years ago.
The Golden Hurricane got close twice in the second half, and each time, Adams and Powell — who played at San Diego’s Lincoln High — led big UCLA (27-8) surges.
Adams and Powell combined for UCLA’s first 12 points of the second half.
Kentucky 56, Kansas State 49
ST. LOUIS (AP) — Julius Randle had 19 points and 15 rebounds, Aaron Harrison finished with 18 points and No. 8 seed Kentucky held off Kansas State to earn a date with Wichita State in the next round.
The preseason No. 1, Kentucky (25-10) is finally starting to live up to the expectations that came with its heralded recruiting class. John Calipari’s bunch nearly knocked off Florida in the SEC title game last week and seemed to carry that momentum right into the Scottrade Center.
Marcus Foster had 15 points, Shane Southwell scored 11 and Thomas Gipson finished with 10 for Kansas State (20-13), which started in a 1-0 hole after a technical for a dunk in pregame warmups. The No. 9 seed then struggled to hit from the perimeter against Kentucky’s tall lineup.
Kansas State was just 5 of 21 from 3-point range. Foster was 1 of 7.