Yale stuns No 3 seed Auburn for second win in NCAA tournament history

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Yale stuns No 3 seed Auburn for second win in NCAA tournament history

John Poulakidas scored 28 points, Samson Aletan made a key block during a wild scramble in the final seconds, and 13th-seeded Yale rallied in the final five minutes to take down No 4 seed Auburn 78-76 in the first round of the NCAA tournament on Friday.

For the second straight year, the Ivy League tournament champion took down one of the pre-tournament favorites – busting plenty of March Madness brackets in the process.

Last year it was Princeton toppling Arizona. This time, it was Yale’s turn.

The Bulldogs (23-9) won an NCAA tournament game for just the second time in school history, rallying from a 10-point deficit midway through the second half. After the final seconds ticked off, the players celebrated on the scorer’s table in front of their fans.

Poulakidas hit big shot after big shot. His step-back 3-pointer with 2.10 left gave the Bulldogs a 73-72 lead. Yale never trailed again, despite a chaotic final stretch that included Auburn getting off two shots in the closing seconds after a missed free throw, one of which was rejected by Aletan.

Yale guard Yassine Gharram stands on a table after celebrating with fans.
Yale guard Yassine Gharram stands on a table after celebrating with fans. Photograph: Ted S Warren/AP

Auburn rolled through the SEC tournament last week and became a favored pick as a team that could take down No 1 overall seed UConn should the pair end up clashing in the Sweet 16.

But the Tigers failed to get out the first round and joined fellow SEC schools South Carolina, Kentucky and Mississippi State amid the early departures from the tournament.

The game of the day belonged to Colorado and Florida. KJ Simpson rattled in a tie-breaking jumper with two seconds left as 10th-seeded Colorado beat seventh-seeded Florida in a 102-100 thriller.

“Williams to inbound. Simpson with it for the lead… OOOOOH! 1.7! 1.7! LONG SHOT, GOOD IF IT GOES! COLORADO WINS! THE BUFFALOES HAVE WON!” – Kevin Harlan 🏀🎙️🧅🔥 #MarchMadness pic.twitter.com/M974x7rqIJ

— Awful Announcing (@awfulannouncing) March 22, 2024

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Simpson finished with 23 points as the Buffaloes and Gators put on the most impressive offensive display of this year’s tournament. Colorado extended its single-season school record for wins two days after beating Boise State in the First Four. The Buffs advanced in the south region to face second-seeded Marquette on Sunday. Walter Clayton Jr scored the last 16 points for Florida, including a three-pointer to tie the game at 100-all with nine seconds left. He finished with a career-high 33 points.

There will be no Final Four run, however, for last year’s tournament darlings. Ryan Langborg scored 12 points in overtime for No 9 Northwestern, which squandered a nine-point second-half lead before recovering to beat No 8 Florida Atlantic 77-65 in an east regional first-round game at Barclays Center. A year ago, Langborg led Princeton to the Sweet 16. Now at Northwestern getting his master’s degree, he scored a season-high 27 points to take down FAU.

Northwestern led for 16-plus consecutive minutes in the second half and opened a trio of nine-point leads, the last at 54-45 on a layup by Langborg, before Goldin hit a layup to begin a 13-2 run for the Owls.

Brooks Barnhizer forced overtime by hitting a floater with nine seconds left for Northwestern (22-11).

Florida Atlantic forced a turnover on Northwestern’s next possession and Johnell Davis, a sensation in the school’s run last year, missed a layup but the Owls retained possession after an inadvertent whistle. Goldin was fouled on the in-bounds and missed the front end of a one-and-one before Barnhizer hit the game-tying shot. Davis missed a desperation three-pointer at the buzzer.

Was Johnell Davis expecting a timeout or though there was more time? The hell was this pic.twitter.com/ROYm8pbwIw

— CJ Fogler account may or may not be notable (@cjzero) March 22, 2024

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In the women’s bracket, Angel Reese had 10 points and 19 rebounds as third-seeded LSU overcame a feisty performance by No 14 seed Rice for a 70-60 in the first round. Aneesah Morrow added 15 points, while Flau’jae Johnson and Mikaylah Williams each scored 14 for the defending national champion Tigers. But LSU committed a season-high 24 turnovers that helped Rice stay in the game. LSU never led by more than 11 and were up by just six with two minutes left.

No 1 overall seed South Carolina easily overcame the absence of starters Kamilla Cardoso and Bree Hall to beat No 16 seed Presbyterian 91-39. The Gamecocks moved five wins away from the 10th perfect championship season by overwhelming the Blue Hose for a second time this season. Next comes another rematch against No 8 seed North Carolina on Sunday. The Tar Heels gave up almost all of their initial 16-point lead before holding on to defeat No 9 seed Michigan State earlier on Friday.

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