NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Thomas Walkup scored 33 points and 14th-seeded Stephen F. Austin faced down West Virginia’s full-court pressure with some of its own in-your-face defense, pulling off a rugged, 70-56 first-round upset of the third-seeded Mountaineers Friday night in the NCAA Tournament.
The Lumberjacks (28-5) ran the nation’s longest winning streak to 21 games and will face either six seed Notre Dame or No. 11 Michigan on Sunday at Barclays in the second round of the East Region.
The Mountaineers (26-9) and Lumberjacks played physical, chest-to-chest defense, contesting not just every shot, but every pass. Neither team shot better than 31 percent.
Walkup, the two-time Southland Conference player of the year, took it to the teeth of West Virginia’s defense and went to the line 20 times. He made 19, including two to make it 60-47 with 5:15 left in the second after West Virginia coach Bob Huggins’ griping to officials drew a technical on the Mountaineers.
When Clide Geffard slammed home an alley-oop to make it 66-54 with 2:40 left, the Lumberjacks’ purple-clad supporters roared, knowing the biggest win in program history was all but complete.
West Virginia came in leading the nation in steals per game at just under 10. Press Virginia, the Mountaineers call it, but they met their match in Stephen F. Austin. The Lumberjacks lead the nation in turnovers forced at nearly 19 per game. They turned over West Virginia 22 times.
Making its third straight NCAA appearance under coach Brad Underwood, Stephen F. Austin won in the first round for the second time.
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The Mountaineers from the Big 12 became the first No. 3 seed to be eliminated from the field of 68 and joined No. 2 seed Michigan State and No. 4 seed California as Friday’s biggest surprise losers.
West Virginia was called for 15 fouls and turned the ball over 12 times in the first half. All the fouls had Huggins and the WVU fans fuming and Stephen F. Austin used 12 free throws _ in 19 attempts _ to help take a 31-28 halftime lead while shooting 29 percent from the field.
The Lumberjacks scored the first seven points of the second half and had the lead up to 38-28.
Stephen F. Austin: The Lumberjacks beat VCU in the round of 64 in 2014 for the schools’ first NCAA Tournament victory.
West Virginia: Devin Williams, the 6-foot-9 power forward and second-leading scorer, had two points and no field goals in the first half. The Mountaineers hoped to exploit Williams’ size in the paint against the undersized Lumberjacks but SFA’s double-teams and switches left him with few good looks. Williams first field goal came off an offensive rebound with 9:58 left in the second half. He ended up leading the Mountaineers with 12 points and 17 rebounds.
Stephen F. Austin meets Michigan or Notre Dame on Sunday for a trip to Philadelphia for the East Regional.
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