SALT LAKE CITY — A March Madness warm-up turned into a great escape for Gonzaga.
The Zags got pushed to the limit by Southern, pulling out a victory in the closing minutes to avoid becoming the first No. 1 seed to lose to a 16 in the NCAA tournament.
Kelly Olynyk led the Zags (32-2) with 21 points. They play No. 9 Wichita State on Saturday.
But it was a pair of 3-pointers — one by Gary Bell Jr., the next by Kevin Pagnos — that staked the Bulldogs to a 62-58 lead only moments after the game was tied at 56 with 3:45 left.
Derick Beltran had 21 points to lead Southern (23-10) and his 14-foot baseline jumper tied it at 56. But the Jaguars from the Southwestern Athletic Conference didn’t make another field goal.
ARIZONA 81, BELMONT 64
SALT LAKE CITY — Mark Lyons scored 23 points and sixth-seeded Arizona rolled past Belmont.
The Wildcats (26-7) used their huge size advantage to shut down the Bruins (26-7), who are 0-6 in tourney games. Arizona held a 44-18 edge on the boards, outscored Belmont 36-18 in the paint, blocked five shots and outshot the Bruins from 3-point range.
The Wildcats made 9 of 17 3-pointers, including a critical one from Solomon Hill with 4:40 remaining to stop an 11-2 Belmont run.
Kerron Johnson led Belmont with 22 points and Clark finished with 21.
Kevin Parrom, Kaleb Tarczewski and Nick Johnson added 12 points each for Arizona.
HARVARD 68, NEW MEXICO 62
SALT LAKE CITY — Give those Harvard kids an A-plus in another subject: Bracketbusting 101.
Wesley Saunders scored 18 points and Laurent Rivard made five 3-pointers to help the 14th-seeded Crimson pull the biggest upset in Thursday’s flurry of NCAA tournament games, a 68-62 win over No. 3 New Mexico.
The Ivy League advanced for the first time since a very good Cornell team made the regional semifinals in 2010. The Mountain West Conference, judged one of the top two leagues in college basketball all season, fell to 1-3 so far this week.
The Crimson (20-9) put the clamps down on New Mexico’s Tony Snell, holding him to nine points on 4-for-12 shooting after he dominated in the MWC tournament. They banged inside with Lobos big men Cameron Bairstow and Alex Kirk, whose 22 points provided New Mexico’s only consistent offense.
Mostly, they showed none of the jitters that marked their trip to the tournament last year — a 79-70 loss to Vanderbilt in Harvard’s first NCAA appearance since 1946.
CALIFORNIA 64, UNLV 61
SAN JOSE, Calif. — Allen Crabbe had 19 points and nine rebounds, reserve Robert Thurman scored all 12 of his points on dunks and 12th-seeded California held off UNLV.
Bryce Dejean-Jones scored 15 points and Anthony Bennett shook off a poor start to finish with 15 points and 11 rebounds for UNLV.
SOUTH DAKOTA 56
AUBURN HILLS, Mich. — Glenn Robinson III scored 21 points and Mitch McGary added 13 points and nine rebounds, helping fourth-seeded Michigan overcome a rough night for star Trey Burke.
Burke made only two field goals and left the game briefly in the second half after a hard fall under the basket. The star point guard came back after that, but he finished with only six points.
Michigan’s Tim Hardaway Jr. scored 21 points.
South Dakota State’s high-scoring guard Nate Wolters was held to only 10 points.
NORTH CAROLINA A&T 48
LEXINGTON, Ky. — Russ Smith scored 23 points and set a Louisville NCAA tournament record with a career-high eight steals, and Peyton Siva had eight assists as the Cardinals demolished North Carolina A&T.
Louisville finished with a season-high 20 steals as it forced the Aggies (20-17) into 27 turnovers.
Bruce Beckford led North Carolina A&T with 12 points.
COLORADO STATE 84,
LEXINGTON, Ky. — Dorian Green scored 17 of his 26 points in the first half and eighth-seeded Colorado State used good shooting to run away from No. 9 Missouri 84-72 Thursday night in the NCAA tournament.
Green shot nearly 58 percent in the first half.
Minnesota transfer and Rams big man Colton Iverson outrebounded Missouri by himself through 27 minutes and finished with 13 boards.
First-year Rams coach Larry Eustachy earned the victory with his fourth tournament team, but the road gets tougher as they advance to face top-seeded Louisville in Saturday’s third-round Midwest Regional game at Rupp Arena.
Phil Pressey’s 20 points led the Tigers (23-11).
MARQUETTE 59, DAVIDSON 58
LEXINGTON, Ky. — Vander Blue’s layup with one second left capped Marquette’s rally from a nine-point deficit and gave the third-seeded Golden Eagles a 59-58 victory over Davidson Thursday in the NCAA tournament.
Blue scored seven of Marquette’s final 11 points to finish with 16. Wilson added 14 points as the Golden Eagles (24-8) won for the fifth time in six games and advanced to face Butler on Saturday.
Jake Cohen’s 20 points led Davidson (26-8).
BUTLER 68, BUCKNELL 56
Andrew Smith had a double-double including a career-high 16 rebounds, Roosevelt Jones added 14 points and Butler made its free throws down the stretch to hold off upset-minded Bucknell.
After trailing for most of the game, 11th-seeded Bucknell got back into it with a 19-2 second-half run. But after Joe Willman’s jumper cut Butler’s lead to 43-42 with 6:56 left, the Bison (28-6) went almost five minutes without scoring.
Willman scored a career-high 20 points for Bucknell, but the Bison couldn’t overcome an off day by two-time Patriot League Player of the Year Mike Muscala, who scored nine points.
SYRACUSE 81, MONTANA 34
SAN JOSE, Calif. — After being sent cross-country to open the NCAA tournament, Syracuse is in no hurry to go back home.
Brandon Triche scored 20 points, C.J. Fair added 13 and the fourth-seeded Orange shut down No. 13 seed Montana with their zone defense in a victory in the second round of the NCAA tournament on Thursday night.
Michael Carter-Williams chipped in four points, eight rebounds and nine assists as the Orange (27-9) raced out to an early lead that grew as high as 50 points and coasted past the Grizzlies (25-7) to their most lopsided tournament win since beating Brown 101-52 in the first round in 1986.
Syracuse advanced to play 12th-seeded and local favorite California (21-11) on Saturday for a spot in the East regional in Washington, D.C. next week. The Golden Bears beat UNLV 64-61.
At The Palace of Auburn Hills
MICHIGAN STATE 65,
AUBURN HILLS, Mich. — Derrick Nix had 23 points and a career-high 15 rebounds to help power third-seeded Michigan State past the 14th-seeded Crusaders.
The Spartans went on a 26-5 run in the first half to take control.
Michigan State (26-8) will play Memphis on Saturday.
Erik Buggs scored 14 and Matt Kenney had 10 points for the Crusaders.
MEMPHIS 54, ST. MARY’S 52
AUBURN HILLS, Mich. — Matthew Dellavedova’s 3-pointer from the right wing missed everything as time expired, allowing sixth-seeded Memphis to hold on for a win over 11th-seeded Saint Mary’s.
The Tigers (31-4) led by 15 in the first half but nearly gave the game away in the final seconds.
Memphis faces third-seeded Michigan State on Saturday.
D.J. Stephens had nine points and eight blocks for the Tigers, and Jackson had 14 points and seven assists. Brad Waldow scored 17 points to lead Saint Mary’s.
Dellavedova had 10 points, seven assists and six turnovers in 40 minutes.
At HP Pavilion
SAINT LOUIS 64,
NEW MEXICO STATE 44
SAN JOSE, Calif. — Dwayne Evans scored 24 points, Cody Ellis added 12 points and fourth-seeded Saint Louis overwhelmed New Mexico State.
Playing through the death of Rick Majerus in December, Saint Louis reached another mark for its late coach. The Billikens (28-6) eclipsed the 1988-89 team’s school record of 27 victories.
Evans shot 11 of 16 and finished a point shy of his career best to propel Saint Louis past 7-foot-5 New Mexico State freshman Sim Bhullar. The Billikens held Bhullar to four points, 11 rebounds and three blocks.
Saint Louis plays Oregon on Saturday.
Bandja Sy had 17 points and nine rebounds for the 13th-seeded Aggies (24-11).
OREGON 68, OKLAHOMA STATE 55
SAN JOSE, Calif. — Damyean Dotson scored 17 points and Arsalan Kazemi added 11 points and 17 rebounds to help 12th-seeded Oregon extend a run that began in the Pac-12 tournament by beating fifth-seeded Oklahoma.
Dominic Artis scored 13 points and helped frustrate Oklahoma State star freshman Marcus Smart on the defensive end to give the Ducks (27-8) their first tournament win in six years.
Smart came into the game with the hype of a top NBA prospect but was held to 14 points on 5 for 13 shooting for the Cowboys (24-9).
At The Palace of Auburn Hills
VCU 88, AKRON 42
AUBURN HILLS, Mich. — Troy Daniels had 23 points, Juvonte Reddic scored 21 and VCU routed Akron in the most lopsided victory by a fifth-seeded team over a No. 12 in NCAA tournament history.
The previous mark was set by Wyoming in a 35-point win over Howard in 1981 and matched by Tennessee against Long Beach State in 2007, according to STATS.
The Rams (27-8) will play fourth-seeded Michigan on Saturday for a spot in the round of 16.