Archive for Sunday, March 20, 2005

Second-seeded Wake ousted

March 20, 2005

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— Former local prep sensation Mike Gansey spent his summer shooting baskets on Cleveland State's cozy court, picturing himself making a big shot in an NCAA Tournament game.

Remarkably, he got the chance on the very same court -- and made the shot. Then another, and another.

Shooting at those familiar baskets, the junior guard scored a career-high 29 points -- 19 in the two overtimes -- and the Mountaineers sent No. 2 seed Wake Forest to another stunning second-round loss, 111-105, Saturday night.

West Virginia (23-10) will play Texas Tech next in the Albuquerque Regional, its deepest tournament run since it also made the round of 16 in 1998. The Mountaineers have beaten seven top-25 teams this season, a school record.

The crowd at Cleveland State rooted Wisconsin-Milwaukee to an upset of Boston College in the first game, then reveled as Wake Forest (27-6) became the first ACC team knocked out of the tournament.

"This is just a dream come true," said Gansey, who went to a suburban high school and worked out this summer in Wolstein Center with his brother, Steve, a guard at Cleveland State. "It's an unbelievable feeling."

For Wake Forest as well. After one of its most promising seasons ended with another overtime loss -- the Demon Deacons were 0-3 in OT this season -- the players couldn't comprehend what had just happened.

"It was what? Three OTs? Two OTs? It was just a long game," said point guard Chris Paul, who fouled out with 3:24 left in the second overtime. "We got a little fatigued at the end, and Gansey kept making play after play after play."

High expectations accompanied the Demon Deacons, who also lost in the second round as a No. 2 seed in 2003. They returned every scholarship player from last season, were ranked No. 1 in the country for two weeks and set a school record for wins in the NCAA opener.

Players on the West Virginia bench erupt as the Mountaineers beat
Wake Forest, 111-105 in double overtime. West Virginia won the
thriller Saturday in Cleveland.

Players on the West Virginia bench erupt as the Mountaineers beat Wake Forest, 111-105 in double overtime. West Virginia won the thriller Saturday in Cleveland.

The burden appeared to weigh on them in their 70-54 victory over Chattanooga on Thursday. Several players conceded they felt some opening-game jitters.

This time, they couldn't hold onto a 13-point halftime lead or hold off a team that has made its mark by knocking off top 25 teams. West Virginia tore through the Big East tournament to reach the finals, developing a knack for big finishes.

None was bigger than this one.

"I just hope we have a city when we get back to school," said Mountaineers guard J.D. Collins. "It might get burned down."

Gansey, who had about 300 friends and relatives in the stands, made a free throw that tied it at 77 with 21 seconds left in regulation.

It finally ended when Wake Forest's Trent Strickland missed a three-pointer with 29 seconds left in the second overtime.

"I mean, you know ... this is a dream come true," Gansey said.

Washington 97, Pacific 79

Boise, Idaho -- Nate Robinson scored 18 of his 23 points in the second half, and the top-seeded Huskies advanced to the round of 16 for the first time since 1998.

Bobby Jones scored 19, and Will Conroy had 10 assists for Washington (29-5). Tre Simmons scored 15 for the Pac-10 champion Huskies, whose top seed was the most disputed among the four No. 1s. But Washington backed it up well against Pacific (27-4).

Guillaume Yango led the Tigers with 17 points and 10 rebounds, and Christian Maraker added 12 points.

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