- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 22, 2008

Western Kentucky’s overtime win over Drake is the game of the tournament thus far.

When the Hilltoppers’ Ty Rogers hit a 26-footer as time expired to secure a 101-99 upset win, he helped break the record for most 3-pointers made in a single game by two teams with 30. The 70 3-pointers attempted by both teams was also an NCAA tournament record. Of the 200 points scored in the game, 90 came from 3-point range.

It’s not terribly surprising that the records would fall in a game involving Drake. The Bulldogs came into the tournament ranked 11th in the nation in 3-point attempts with 27 a game. Western Kentucky, however, wasn’t nearly as trigger happy all year, averaging just 20.

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    American way

    Every year in the NCAA tournament, it seems there are several teams with seeds between 14 and 16 who find themselves hanging in impressively against heavily favored opponents, only to let the game slip away in the second half.

    In most of those instances, fans can see the fade coming because the underdog team is shooting the ball at an unsustainably good clip. Face it: A shooting percentage of 70 percent can’t last for 40 minutes.

    But American hung in for about 35 minutes against second-seeded Tennessee yesterday not because of super-human shooting — the Eagles shot just 36 percent — but by crashing the boards in surprising fashion.

    AU pulled down 37 rebounds, including 16 on the offensive end and got solid rebounding performances from its entire lineup, with 6-foot-4 guard Frank Borden leading the team with eight.

    It should be worth noting that among NCAA tournament teams, Tennessee ranked just 14th in rebounding entering the tournament with 38 rebounds a game. The Vols pulled down just 27 rebounds yesterday and recorded 27 or fewer in three of their four losses during the season.

    How the West (Coast) won

    All season, Gonzaga and Saint Mary’s battled for supremacy for the West Coast Conference. But it was San Diego that emerged with the conference’s automatic bid for the NCAA tournament, knocking off both teams on the way to the WCC championship.

    The Toreros further justified their inclusion in the field of 65 after De’Jon Jackson hit a jumper with 1.2 seconds left in overtime to beat fourth-seeded Connecticut 70-69. Earlier in the day, Gonzaga and Saint Mary’s both lost against lower-seeded opponents.

    It was the first-ever NCAA tournament win for San Diego, which had not appeared in the tournament since 2003.

    The win also continues a tradition of WCC teams winning tournament games as double-digit seeds. Since Gonzaga surged to the regional finals as a 10-seed in 1999, WCC teams have made eight appearances as double-digit seeds, winning five of the first-round games.

    Looking back further, Loyola Marymount made big headlines in 1990 when it ran to the regional finals as an 11-seed, while Steve Nash and Santa Clara won first as a 15-seed over Arizona in 1993, then as a 10th seed over Arizona in 1996.

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