MOON, Pa. — Mike McFadden hit two free throws with 8.7 seconds remaining and Robert Morris shocked defending national champion Kentucky 59-57 in the opening round of the NIT on Tuesday night.
The Wildcats decided not to call timeout after the second free throw but Kyle Wiltjer’s 3-pointer before the buzzer bounced harmlessly off the rim, sending hundreds of students onto the court as Robert Morris ruined Kentucky coach John Calipari’s homecoming.
Lucky Jones led the Colonials (24-10) with 15 points but was ejected for a flagrant foul on Archie Goodwin with 3:41 to play. Kentucky, which trailed by 13 in the second half, managed to tie it twice but could never grab the lead.
Goodwin scored 18 points for the Wildcats but couldn’t stop Kentucky’s disappointing season come to a stunning end.
The victory was validation for the Colonials, who won the Northeastern Conference regular season title with ease but were upset in the conference tournament. The loss relegated the school to the NIT, but it hardly felt like a letdown in perhaps the biggest win in the program’s history.
“I know they were disappointed not to get to NCAA tournament. This is a memory they’ll get for rest of their lives.” Robert Morris coach Andy Toole said in the giddy aftermath.
Robert Morris will advance to the second round, while Kentucky’s injury-marred underachieving year came to a merciful end.
Fans scooped up the 3,500 tickets in a matter of hours on Monday then lined up outside in the blustery March wind well before tipoff of arguably the biggest game in school history. Robert Morris averaged barely 1,000 fans during its 15 home games, yet there were scalpers asking for $75 to get in the door.
Robert Morris scored the game’s first 10 points while the Wildcats stumbled their way through a series of miscues and appeared rattled in a gym with wooden bleachers that swayed underneath the feet of a clamoring student section chanting “Bobby Mo” every chance it could.
Senior Jarrod Polson came off the bench to steady things, and Kentucky recovered to get within 28-27 at the break.
Yet the Colonials never folded, making 8 of 12 shots during one stretch to move back in front 49-36 then holding off a late Kentucky push to send students leaping over tables and onto the floor in a delirious celebration.
Maryland 86, Niagara 70
COLLEGE PARK, Md. — Nick Faust had 15 points and 11 rebounds, and Maryland used a strong second half to defeat Niagara.
Tied at halftime, the Terrapins (23-12) used a 21-2 run to take a 56-38 lead before coasting to the finish. Second-seed Maryland next hosts Denver.
After sinking a free throw to begin the second half, Niagara missed nine straight field goal tries and went 1 for 16 from the floor while Maryland got seven points from Seth Allen and five from Faust during scoring sprees of 12-0 and 9-0.
St. John’s 63,
Saint Joseph’s 61
PHILADELPHIA — Sir’Dominic Pointer raced down the court and hit a jumper from the corner at the buzzer to lead St. John’s to a 63-61 come-from-behind win over Saint Joseph’s.
Making their record 28th NIT appearance, the Red Storm (17-15) trailed by double digits midway through the first half before rallying to take a 57-56 lead on back-to-back layups from Amir Garrett with 3 minutes remaining.
Hawks’ forward Ronald Roberts made two free throws to tie the game with 5.7 seconds left before Pointer’s game-winner.
Louisiana Tech 71,
Florida State 66
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Raheem Appleby scored 27 points, and Alex Hamilton added 16 to help Louisiana Tech rally from a nine-point second half deficit.
Appleby, who made 12 of 19 shots, had 21 of points in the second half, including three quick baskets in a 52-second span that keyed an 11-0 run that gave the lower-seeded Bulldogs a 37-35 lead.
Louisiana Tech (27-6) will meet the winner of today’s game between Southern Miss and Charleston Southern in second-round play of the NIT.
Michael Snaer led Florida State with 24 points in his final game for the Seminoles, while junior Okaro White added 11. Snaer’s 14 points in the first half led Florida State to a 28-24 lead.
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Levi Randolph scored 13 points and briefly took over during a 22-0 second-half run.
Randolph scored nine points during the spurt that helped the Crimson Tide (22-12) turn back a lengthy rally by the short-handed Huskies (20-13), who scored a season-low in points.
Randolph was 6-of-9 shooting after coming in averaging 7.5 points. Trevor Lacey added 11 points, while Trevor Releford had nine points and five steals.
Jonathan Lee led Northeastern with 13 points and made 3 of 6 3-pointers. The rest of the team was 2 of 10.
Virginia 67, Norfolk St. 56
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — Justin Anderson scored 15 points, including four key free throws in the final minutes, and Virginia overcame a sloppy offensive performance to beat Norfolk State 67-56.
Akil Mitchell also had 15 for the Cavaliers (22-11), who won despite missing 15 free throws and making 18 turnovers.
Rob Johnson scored 19, and Pendarvis Williams had 14 for the Spartans (21-12), who lost their second straight. Norfolk State had gone unbeaten in 16 Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference games before losing is first MEAC tournament game.
Denver 61, Ohio 57
DENVER — Brett Olson scored 15 points, and his defensive pressure helped turn aside a potential go-ahead layup with 21 seconds remaining as Denver hung on to beat Ohio.
With Denver (22-9) leading 58-57, Olson shadowed D.J. Cooper on his drive to the basket and got a hand in his face as he put the shot up from up close. Teammate Chris Udofia, who finished 14 points, came over at the last moment to block Cooper’s layup attempt.
BYU 90, Washington 79
PROVO, Utah — Tyler Haws scored 37 points, and Brandon Davies added 22 points to lead Brigham Young.
Matt Carlino also added 20 points, 18 in the second half, for BYU (22-11).
C.J. Wilcox led Washington (18-16) with 20 points, while Shawn Kemp Jr. added 15 points and 11 rebounds.
Stephen F. Austin 57
STANFORD, Calif. — Dwight Powell had 12 points and 15 rebounds to help Stanford beat Stephen F. Austin.
Aaron Bright added 11 points for the Cardinal (18-15), who won for the third time in four games.
Taylor Smith had 18 points to lead four Lumberjacks (27-5) in double figures.
The Cardinal opened a seven-point lead midway through the second half and maintained a slight edge the rest of the way. Powell blocked Desmond Haymon’s shot with 41 seconds remaining, and Gabe Harris came up with the loose ball.