Washington, D.C. hosted the second round NCAA Tournament action on March 17 at the Verizon Center with four games. After three routs and one thrilling finale, District natives hope the third round of the tourney will be a little more exciting than the one they witnessed on opening day. The AFRO recaps two of the D.C. Southeast region’s bracket matchups.
Pittsburgh 74, North Carolina Asheville 51
The Southeast region’s top-seeded Pittsburgh Panthers allowed the No. 16 University of North Carolina-Asheville Bulldogs to hang around in the first half before slamming the door on the Big South Conference champion to settle matters in the second half.
After going into halftime leading 30-25, Pittsburgh outscored UNC-Asheville 44-26 in the second half. Pittsburgh exploited a size advantage over the Bulldogs, outrebounding the smaller squad, 44-24. Junior guard Ashton Gibbs led Pittsburgh with 26 points, scoring 20 after the break, and connecting on six three-pointers in the process.
“Being in the right place at the right time, anticipating what they're trying to do offensively, we did a good job,” Pittsburgh coach Jamie Dixon told reporters after the game. “We had a good feel for what they were going to do. They're very good, but I think it was more our depth that wore them down at times.”
Pittsburgh (28-5) will face the Butler Bulldogs on March 19.
Butler 60, Old Dominion 58
Last season’s NCAA tournament runner-up gave fans at the Verizon Center their most exciting game of the day. Butler senior forward Matt Howard’s tip-in at the buzzer propelled Butler to the next round over the Old Dominion Monarchs on March 17.
“We were fortunate to win,” Butler coach Brad Stevens told reporters after the game. “It didn't look pretty and that's not exactly the way you want it to end by any means, but they were in the right spots.”
Old Dominion senior forward Frank Hassell led all scorers with 20 points but he was the only one of the team’s players to score in double figures. Butler placed three players in double figures with Howard and junior guard Shelvin Mack leading the way with 15 points each.
Butler (24-9) will face the Pittsburgh Panthers on March 19.