First Four: USC pulls off huge comeback; UC Davis gets 1st tourney win

First Four: USC pulls off huge comeback; UC Davis gets 1st tourney win

DAYTON, Ohio -- Bennie Boatwright scored a career-high 24 points as Southern Cal rallied from a 17-point deficit in the second half to beat Providence 75-71 in a First Four game Wednesday night.

The comeback victory was revenge for the Trojans, who lost to Providence by one point in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament last year. They move on to play 6th-seeded SMU at Tulsa, Oklahoma, on Friday.

After Providence led by 15 points at halftime and went up by 17 to start the second half, Southern Cal (25-9) mounted a furious rally. The Trojans closed it to five points at the 10-minute mark, and went up 61-60 on a jumper by Chimezie Metu off a turnover with 6:46 left.

Metu hit both ends of a 1-and-1 to put Southern Cal up 71-64 with 1:23 remaining and kept Providence from getting back into it down the stretch.

Jordan McLaughlin scored 18 points for Southern Cal, and Metu added 15 on 9-for-12 free throw shooting.

Emmitt Holt led Providence with 18 points and 11 rebounds. Jalen Lindsey and Rodney Bullock added 17 each (see full recap).

UC Davis records 1st NCAA Tournament win
DAYTON, Ohio -- Chima Moneke had 18 points and 12 rebounds as UC Davis won in its first NCAA Tournament appearance, beating North Carolina Central 67-63 in a First Four game on Wednesday night.

The 16th-seeded Aggies rallied in the second half and held off North Carolina Central down the stretch to earn a trip to Tulsa to play No. 1 seed Kansas on Friday.

Brynton Lemar scored 15 points and Lawrence White added 14 for UC Davis, which had earned a trip to the tournament by winning the Big West Conference Tournament.

The Aggies (23-12) won despite 18 turnovers that led to 20 points for streaky North Carolina Central. But the Eagles couldn't overcome poor shooting that deteriorated even more in the second half.

The Eagles pulled within 64-63 with 1:49 left in the game on a 3-pointer by Dajuan Graf. North Carolina Central got the ball back with 37 seconds left, but another 3-point try by Graf was off the mark. Graf had to foul Lawrence White, who made two free throws with 16 second remaining to give the Eagles some breathing room. Lemar hit a foul shot with 4 seconds left to put it away.

Graf paced North Carolina Central (25-9) with 15 points. Kyle Benton and Patrick Cole added 13 each (see full recap).

Penn State holds off Marquette to reach NIT semifinals

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Penn State holds off Marquette to reach NIT semifinals


MILWAUKEE -- Lamar Stevens tied his career high with 30 points, Tony Carr added 25 and Penn State beat Marquette 85-80 on Tuesday night to advance to the NIT semifinals.

The Nittany Lions (24-13) will face Mississippi State (25-11) at Madison Square Garden in New York on March 27. They advanced to the NIT semis for the first time since winning the 2009 tournament.

Stevens hit three crucial buckets in the final three minutes, including a dunk off an alley-oop pass from Josh Reaves for an eight-point lead with one minute left. The 6-foot-8 Stevens then maneuvered through a couple Marquette players to secure a rebound off Andrew Rowsey's missed 3 with 46 seconds left.

Carr went 5 of 8 from the foul line over the final 30 seconds to give Marquette another chance. Rowsey hit a 3 and a layup to get the Golden Eagles as close as 83-80 with six seconds left before the Golden Eagles ran out of time.

Shep Garner scored 19 points and set two Penn State records, including most 3s in a season (112). Garner's 73 career wins are the most in a four-year span since Penn State joined the Big Ten in 1992-93.

Rowsey, a senior, scored 29 points for Marquette (21-14).

The Golden Eagles had whittled a 14-point deficit early in the second half to 72-68 with 2:39 left on three foul shots by Rowsey. Penn State went nearly three minutes without a bucket and got sloppy with the ball and the sharpshooting Golden Eagles started hitting 3s to get back in the game.

Villanova, Penn with polar opposite NCAA Tournament draws

Villanova, Penn with polar opposite NCAA Tournament draws

No surprises on the Main Line and well, the Quakers have quite the hill to climb to advance.

Villanova on Sunday night was awarded the 1-seed in the East Region and will face the winner of the LIU Brooklyn/Radford game Thursday in Pittsburgh. Tip-off is scheduled for 6:50 p.m. on TNT.

The Wildcats have been a top-two seed since 2014 and it's the second straight year they're a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. Villanova was the No. 1 overall seed in last year's tournament.

Penn was named the 16th seed in the Midwest Region and will face the No. 1-seeded Kansas Jayhawks on Thursday at 2 p.m. on TBS in Wichita, Kansas.

Steve Donahue has the Quakers back in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2007 in his third season as Penn's head coach.

The Quakers are 24-8 and this will be their 24th-ever appearance in the tournament.

'Nova survived a scare from Providence on Saturday night to win its second straight Big East title and its third in the past four years.

If the Wildcats beat LIU Brooklyn/Radford, they'll face the winner of the No. 8-seeded Virginia Tech and No. 9 seed Alabama. Purdue is the No. 2 seed in the East.

Also in the East are No. 3 Texas Tech and No. 4 Wichita State.