by Josh Ouellette, SWX Content Coordinator - email
Third round action started off with No. 12 North Dakota State taking on No. 4 SDSU on Saturday. (Photo: Neil Stover)
The NCAA Tournament action at the Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena continued on Saturday, Mar. 22, with No. 4 San Diego State and No. 12 North Dakota State tipping off at 3:10 p.m. to continue the March Madness that has swept Spokane, Wash.
No. 4 Michigan State will face No. 12 Harvard in the evening game. The Spartans rode the Adreian Payne wave into the round of 32 over Delaware, while Harvard upset No. 5 seed Cincinnati in the Arena's opening Tournament game.
The Bison were riding high after defeating No. 5 Oklahoma 80-75 in overtime on Thursday. San Diego State also won in OT, beating No. 13 New Mexico State in the Thursday finale.
Tune into SWX after the game for live post-game press conference coverage following the evening game and follow @SWXRightNow on twitter for live updates from the Spokane Arena. Also check back for recaps of the games at the conclusion.
No. 4 San Diego State 63, No. 12 North Dakota State 44
Xavier Thames. The San Diego State men's basketball team owes the entire game to Thames, and his scoring prowess, as the senior transfer from Washington State finished with 30 points and 5 assists for the Aztecs in their third round win over No. 12 North Dakota State at the Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena on Saturday, Mar. 22.
With the majority of the Spokane Arena seeming to have caught BisoNation fever, NDSU failed to cut the lead any closer than five after SDSU ran out to a 30-23 lead at the break, closing out the first half with a 15-3 run. Thames had 16 going into the locker rooms.
Early on in the second half was when the Bison cut the lead to five, 35-30, thanks to a Marshall Bjorklund jumper with the foul and made free throw. But the excitement was short lived as the Aztecs went on a 15-6 run, with Thames seemingly scoring at will. San Diego State didn't let NDSU come within seven after that point in the game, and began to extend its lead with the Bison struggling to make baskets. SDSU ended the game with a 16-6 stretch over the final 7-plus minutes to put away North Dakota State and advance to the Sweet 16.
Kory Brown led the Bison in scoring with 13. Dwayne Polee II had 15 points and 6 rebounds for the Aztecs, while Josh Davis had a game-high 13boards to go with his 6 points.
SDSU will advance to face the winner of tomorrow's No. 1 Arizona vs. No. 8 Gonzaga matchup in the West Region's quarterfinals in Anaheim, Calif. on Mar. 27.
No. 4 Michigan State 80, No. 12 Harvard 73
The game looked to be in hand for Michigan State, but Harvard went on a 19-5 run to tie the game at 55 with 9:05 left in the second half, before the Spartans woke up and went on an 11-1 scoring stretch to re-take the lead and help close out the game. MSU advances to face the winner No. 1 Virginia vs. 8th seed Memphis in the Sweet 16.
The Crimson run was capped off when Wesley Saunders slammed home a steal to make it 55 all, and Laurent Rivard ignited the Spokane Arena crowd with thee from the corner to take Harvards first lead of the game, 62-60, with just over 7 minutes left in the game.
It was Michigan State's response that saved Tom Izzo's squad. The Crimson flirted at another comeback in the final minutes of the game, bringing it within four, 73-69 before the Spartans were able to put the game away with 41 seconds left thanks to a Keith Appling steal and made free throws in the end.
It was Branden Dawson's game-high 26 points and team-high 9 rebounds that led the way for MSU, while Thursday's hero Adreian Payne finished with 12 points. Gary Harris added 18 points and 5 assists to the Spartans winning effort.
Saunders scored 22 points for Harvard. Steve Moundou-Missi was a major part of the Crimson's comeback in the middle of the second half and finished with a double-double, 11 points and 10 boards.