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Savor the sweetness

Wisconsin-Milwaukee and West Virginia pull off upsets to reach the Sweet 16, and Bob Knight gets "a monkey off his back."

By wire services
Published March 20, 2005


One win wasn't enough for Wisconsin-Milwaukee, 10 years was too much for Bob Knight and 111 points finally did it for West Virginia.

The 12th-seeded Panthers knocked off fourth-seeded Boston College 83-75 Sunday in Cleveland to advance to the Sweet 16 for the first time. In Tucson, Ariz., Knight, who hadn't advanced past the first weekend since 1994 with Indiana, led sixth-seeded Texas Tech to a 71-69 win over third-seeded Gonzaga. Later in Cleveland, seventh-seeded West Virginia needed two overtimes to oust second-seeded Wake Forest 111-105.

"He won't talk about it," Tech associate coach Pat Knight said of his father's feelings on the NCAA drought. "But I think it's kind of a monkey off his back."

Red Raiders rally

Ronald Ross, a former walk-on who scored 24, made a 3-pointer from the corner to put Tech up 68-67 with 1:06 left and sealed the victory by making two free throws with 7.5 seconds left.

"He's an all-time example to kids as to what they can do with what they have," Bobby Knight said. "I've never had a player that I would have had more admiration for than Ronald Ross, particularly when he hit that 3."

Gonzaga made an early exit with a high seed for the second year in a row. The Bulldogs were the No.2 seed a year ago and lost to Nevada in the second round. Adam Morrison led them with 25 points and grabbed nine rebounds.

In the first half, Tech was outrebounded 27-14 and dominated inside by the bigger Bulldogs. Gonzaga had 10 offensive and 17 defensive rebounds in the half.

Gonzaga led 38-29 at the half, and both Knights implored Tech's timid forwards to stop getting bullied. Two possessions into the second half, Gonzaga had a J.P. Batista putback and a fastbreak dunk by Erroll Knight to lead 42-29.

"We had to have inside play," Bob Knight said of the Tech timeout that followed. "I wondered if they understood English or if I could speak it."

With forward Darryl Dora (eight of 10 points in second half) getting Tech started, the Raiders used a 24-12 run to go ahead 55-54. From there, it was game on.

Ties at 55 and 57 followed before Gonzaga surged to lead 62-57.

The Raiders finally got Morrison under control as the Bulldogs took their final lead on center Ronny Turiaf's two-bouncer for a 67-65 advantage. Twenty-three seconds later, Tech's Martin Zeno drove and kicked the ball out to the left corner to Ross, whose 3-pointer gave the Raiders the lead for good.

"People doubted us," Ross said. "But Coach is definitely a great coach. Look where we are now."

Panthers pressure pays off

Given little chance in the first round against Alabama from the SEC or the Big East's regular-season champions, Milwaukee gave the nation's mid-major programs another moment to savor.

It used a relentless, fullcourt press that forced the Eagles into 22 turnovers - the most crucial one a pass that was thrown away with 1:21 left and BC down 76-75.

The Panthers have won 10 in a row and 19 of 20. They play Illinois on Thursday in the Chicago Region in Rosemont, Ill. The Panthers are the fifth No.12 seed to advance to the Sweet 16 since 1989 and the first since Butler, one of its Horizon League brethren, in 2003.

The Panthers ended the game with a 9-0 run. And as time ticked off, coach Bruce Pearl, a Boston College graduate who once filled in as the eagle mascot for an NCAA Tournament game in 1981, swung his 10-year-old daughter, Leah, around at midcourt.

"We have at least 24 hours to celebrate," said Ed McCants, the Horizon's player of the year who scored 18. "We understand we still have games to be played. There won't be any ridiculous amount of celebrating. It'll be back to business when we get back to Milwaukee."

Mountaineers finish big

Shooting at baskets he practiced on all summer, former Cleveland prep star Mike Gansey fashioned yet another West Virginia upset.

The junior guard scored a career-high 29, 19 in the two overtimes as West Virginia beat its seventh Top 25 team this season, a school record.

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

Wake Forest's 105 points were the seventh most for a losing team in tournament history, not the legacy the Demon Deacons wanted for one of their most promising seasons.

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

After struggling early in a 70-54 win over Chattanooga on Thursday, Wake couldn't hold onto a 13-point halftime lead.

Regulation ended dramatically. West Virginia took a 73-72 lead with 1:04 left off a backdoor cut by Tyrone Sally. It became a three-point game when Gansey made a free throw. But Taron Downey made a 3-pointer with 13 seconds left to send it into overtime. West Virginia's J.D. Collins then missed a close-in shot with 1.6 seconds left.

The first overtime was more of the same. Downey again made a 3-pointer - with 16.5 seconds left - to tie it at 93. Then Wake Forest's Eric Williams blocked a layup by Johannes Herber as time expired.

But the Mountaineers controlled the second overtime, especially after Wake Forest point guard Chris Paul, who scored 10 in the first overtime, fouled out with 3:24 left.

Wake Forest's Trent Strickland missed a 3-pointer with 29 seconds left, and Herber's fastbreak layup sealed it with 13 seconds left.

"We were down. It's the story of our season," coach John Beilein said. "We didn't quit."

Information from the Associated Press, Charlotte Observer and Fort Worth Star-Telegram was used in this report.