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NCAA roundup: Mercer shocks Duke

Mercer Bears guard Kevin Canevari (3), forward Jakob Gollon (20) and guard Ike Nwamu (10) celebrate after beating the Duke Blue Devils during the second round of the NCAA Tournament at PNC Arena on Friday. USA Today Sports photo

RALEIGH, N.C. — Mercer’s big moment will last a little longer in this NCAA Tournament.

In the first game of tournament play Friday, the Atlantic Sun rose again, with conference champion Mercer shocking third-seeded Duke 78-71 in a Midwest Regional second-round game.

“Our guys continue to believe at such a high level,” coach Bob Hoffman said. “When you work as hard as they have for 365 days, it was just a blessing to see this happen.”

Mercer follows Florida Gulf Coast — the darling of the 2013 NCAA Tournament from the Atlantic Sun that beat Mercer in the conference tournament last season — in advancing to a third-round game Sunday in the school’s first appearance in the event in 29 years. The Bears will face the winner of Tennessee-Massachusetts.

“It hasn’t hit me yet,” Mercer guard Ike Nwamu said. “It probably will hit me in the next couple of hours or so.”

Forward Jakob Gollon scored 20 points, including 15 in the second half, and forward Daniel Coursey poured in 17 points for the 14th-seeded Bears (27-8), who received 13 points from guard Anthony White Jr.

Duke exited the tournament with an 0-1 mark for the second time in three seasons. The Blue Devils were coming off a loss to Virginia in Sunday’s Atlantic Coast Conference tournament final.

“Our guys tried,” Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said. “I have no fault with my team. Sometimes the other team just plays better. I applaud it and I applaud Mercer.”

Krzyzewski stopped by the Mercer locker room after his news conference to congratulate the Bears.

“We’re a very veteran team, we’ve been saying it all week,” Gollon said. “When it gets tough out there, when it gets loud, we have a lot of guys who stay focused.”

Guard Quinn Cook, a junior with a career-high seven 3-pointers, scored 23 points and guard Rasheed Sulaimon, who knocked down a season-high five 3-point baskets, finished with 20 points for third-seeded Duke (26-9). Freshman forward Jabari Parker had 14 points.

“Hopefully we have some more juice in us,” Mercer guard Kevin Canevari said. “It’s a huge win for us, for Mercer. We hope to dance again.”

Mercer shot 55.6 percent (25 for 45) from the field.

“We didn’t make the stops when we needed to,” Sulaimon said. “That’s what it came down to. That’s the story of our season. We were getting leads and we couldn’t knock teams out.”

No. 11 Tennessee 86,    No. 6 Massachusetts 67

RALEIGH, N.C. — Tennessee made sure it stayed aggressive after creating a double-figure lead against sixth-seeded Massachusetts in the NCAA Tournament’s Midwest Regional second round Friday at PNC Arena.

Forward Jarnell Stokes scored 20 of his 26 points in the second half as the 11th-seeded Volunteers blistered Massachusetts, 86-67.

Guard Jordan McRae scored 21 points and guard Josh Richardson added 15 points for the Volunteers, who shot 53.6 percent from the field.

“We pushed the ball on the break and that was big for us,” said Stokes, who scored 12 points on free throws and also had 14 rebounds.

Forward Jeronne Maymon chipped in with 11 points and 11 rebounds.

“We were in attack mode,” Richardson said. “We had to be.”

Tennessee (23-12) faces 14th-seeded Mercer, which stunned Duke in the day’s first game, in the third round Sunday.

No. 10 Stanford 58,      No. 7 New Mexico 53

ST. LOUIS — Trying desperately to steal victory in its NCAA second round South Region game Friday, New Mexico thought it had a willing mark.

Stanford reserve guard Robbie Lemons showed otherwise.

Playing for the first time in the second half, Lemons calmly sank both ends of a one-and-one with 23.8 seconds left as the 10th-seeded Cardinals wrapped up a 58-53 victory at Scottrade Center.

Those were the only points for Lemons, a 6-foot-3 senior from Carmichael, Calif., who averaged only 2.2 points in 32 games and made only 7-of-12 free throws.

“Absolutely, he was one of the guys we wanted to foul,” Lobos coach Craig Neal said. “What had he taken, 12 free throws all year?”

Instead, Lemons looked like one of his more heralded teammates — guard Chasson Randle, who collected a team-high 23 points — as he eagerly stepped to the line and converted under pressure.

“I just tried to pretend like these were the same free throws I’d shot at home and in practice, over and over,” Lemons said. “It means a lot to be in that type of situation and be able to help your team win.”

Stanford (22-12) led for all but a minute and 57 seconds, but coughed up a 16-point first half lead and hadn’t scored in 4:33 when Lemons embraced his moment under the bright lights.

“It just goes to show the value of staying engaged in the game,” he said. “Just being ready when the coach calls on you.”

The Cardinal’s readiness at the game’s start was without question. They hit their first six shots, including three 3-pointers, and owned a 20-4 lead when Randle laid in an alley-oop pass at the 13:38 mark.

Seventh-seeded New Mexico (27-7) worked gamely the rest of the way to erase the big deficit. It drew within 32-27 at halftime, scoring the first half’s last eight points, and tied the game, 45-45, when guard Cullen Neal converted in transition with 10:07 left.

But Randle drilled a 3-pointer with 8:56 on the clock to put Stanford ahead to stay. The Lobos went scoreless for 6:50 after Neal’s bucket, missing eight consecutive shots, as senior forward Cameron Bairstow, who had 24 points and eight rebounds, suddenly went cold.

“Maybe we were a little tired,” Bairstow said of the last 10 minutes. “But they were playing their starters as much as we did. They were making shots down the stretch that we didn’t. So I don’t know if fatigue was a factor.”

Bairstow scored 10 of his team’s first 13 second half points, but got no help from his usually reliable wingmen. Guard Kendall Williams (1-of-9 shooting, three points) and center Alex Kirk (0-for 3, three points) were non-factors.

Williams missed all six of his 3-point shots, while Kirk drew two quick first half fouls and played only 26 minutes before fouling out in the dying seconds.

“It’s hard to stop two great players like Williams and Kirk,” Cardinal coach Johnny Dawkins said. “I thought (guard) Anthony (Brown) and (forward) Dwight (Powell) were able to bother them with their length.”

Brown and center Stefan Nastic each added 10 points for Stanford, which will play either No. 2 Kansas or No. 15 Eastern Kentucky on Sunday.

Guard Deshawn Delaney scored 10 points for New Mexico, which adopted the motto of “Unfinished Business” this season. After winning the Mountain West Conference regular season and tournament titles last season, the Lobos suffered a second round loss to Harvard in Salt Lake City.

First-year coach Craig Neal, who took over after Steve Alford accepted the UCLA job in April, said he didn’t regret using the mantra.

“Failure is success turned inside out,” he said. “I just hate it for our three seniors that they don’t get to continue this journey.”