Mountaineers will try to exorcise Demons
(Sports Network) – After pulling off the biggest upset of the first round, the
14th- seeded Northwestern State Demons will attempt to knock off the sixth-
seeded West Virginia Mountaineers in the second round of the 2006 NCAA
Tournament. The winner will move on to the Sweet 16 to battle either 10th-
seeded NC State and second-seeded Texas. Northwestern State trailed Iowa
by 17 points on Friday and somehow managed to fight back and knock off
the third-seeded Hawkeyes by a 64-63 final. The victory marked just the
15th time in NCAA Tournament history that a 14 seed upset a three seed in
the first round. The Demons are making their second NCAA Tournament
appearance in their 30-year Division I history, and they have posted a
school-record 26 victories this season.
As for West Virginia, it pulled away down the stretch for a 64-46 triumph
over Southern Illinois in the first round. The Mountaineers reached the
Elite Eight a year ago and returned almost every key contributor from that
squad. They are making back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances for the first
time since 1986-87. This game marks the first-ever meeting between
Northwestern State and West Virginia on the hardwood.
Northwestern State’s Jermaine Wallace hit a shot on Friday against Iowa that
will go down as one of the most memorable in NCAA Tournament history. With the
Demons down by two points and the clock winding down, Wallace took a three-
pointer from the corner as he was falling out of bounds. The shot fell through
the hoop with less than a second showing on the clock to lift the club to an
unbelievable triumph. Wallace scored 10 points for the Demons, who got 18
points from Clifton Lee on 4-of-6 accuracy from behind the arc. Luke Rogers
tallied 11 points and finished with eight assists against just one turnover.
The fact that Northwestern State beat Iowa despite shooting only 38.3 percent
from the floor is hard to believe. The Demons were outscored 21-9 from the
foul line, but they did force 19 turnovers. Lee entered the NCAA Tournament as
the team’s only double-digit scorer with 14.2 ppg.
Northwestern State won the Southland Conference regular-season crown and
went on to capture the league tournament title as well. The Demons
carry an eight-game win streak into today’s tilt and figure to play with great
Perhaps the most obvious key to West Virginia’s victory over Southern Illinois
was that the Mountaineers limited the Salukis to four free throw attempts. As
a result, West Virginia was able to win the game by a wide margin despite
putting forth a mediocre offensive showing. Kevin Pittsnogle led the way for
the Mountaineers with 18 points, and Mike Gansey was the only other double-
digit scorer with 10 points. Prior to this season, only two WVU players had
ever earned a spot on the All-Big East First Team. That total has since
doubled, as Pittsnogle and Gansey have both received that distinction.
Only once this season has a player other than Pittsnogle or Gansey led
the Mountaineers in scoring, and it comes as no surprise that they are the
only two double-digit scorers on the roster. Pittsnogle is netting 19.5 ppg on
48.5 percent shooting from the floor, including 40.1 percent efficiency from
three-point range. Gansey is posting 17.0 ppg on 55.3 percent shooting
from the field and 43.0 percent from beyond the arc.