O’Bryant, Bradley stun Pittsburgh to reach Sweet 16
Auburn Hills, MI (Sports Network) – Patrick O’Bryant scored 28 points and
grabbed seven rebounds to power Bradley to a 72-66 victory over Pittsburgh in
the second round of the NCAA Tournament at the Palace of Auburn Hills.
Marcellus Sommerville added 18 points and Lawrence Wright chipped in 14 with
nine boards for the Braves (22-10), who became only the fourth 13th seed to
reach the Sweet 16 — joining Oklahoma in 1999, Valparaiso in 1998 and
Richmond in 1988. Bradley, which upended Kansas in the first round, will next
play Memphis on Thursday night in the semifinals of the Oakland bracket, as
the top-seeded Tigers beat Bucknell on Sunday afternoon.
The Braves have won two games in the same NCAA Tournament for the first time
since 1955, and with Wichita State’s victory over Tennessee on Saturday the
Missouri Valley Conference now has two teams in the Sweet 16 for the first
time in its history.
“Bradley basketball is back on the map in a big way,” said Braves head coach
Jim Les, a point guard for the school during the 1980s. “It hasn’t sunk in
yet, but it’s going to be an enjoyable week. But we aren’t satisfied.”
Pittsburgh (25-8), meanwhile, failed to advance past the second round of the
NCAA Tournament for the second straight year after making three consecutive
Sweet 16 appearances.
Levance Fields scored 18 points to lead the fifth-seeded Panthers, while Carl
Krauser added 17.
Pittsburgh scored the first four points of the second half to erase a 30-29
deficit and led 35-34 after a bucket by Aaron Gray. The Panthers had a chance
to extend the lead on their next possession, but Gray was called for a five-
second violation and slammed the ball to the floor.
The resulting technical foul with 16:45 remaining ignited a 9-0 Bradley burst.
Sommerville made both free throws to put the Braves in front and O’Bryant
followed with a couple of inside baskets before Sommerville drained a three-
pointer to give Bradley a 43-35 edge with just over 14 minutes to play.
“The tech gave them the momentum and they got a lot of energy from that play,”
A runner by Sam Young temporarily stopped the bleeding, but the Braves
continued to be the more aggressive team and scored 10 of the next 12 points.
Tony Bennett’s bank shot with 8:50 left gave Bradley a 53-39 cushion.
Back came the Panthers, as Krauser scored six points during a 12-3 spurt to
make it 56-51 game with just over 3 1/2 minutes remaining.
It was still a five-point game with 33 seconds to play after Ronald Ramon
drilled a three-pointer for the Panthers, but O’Bryant made a pair of free
throws to give Bradley a 70-63 edge moments later.
A three-pointer by Krauser with 11 seconds left pulled Pittsburgh within four,
but Sommerville drained two from the stripe to seal it.
“If we keep playing like we did tonight and two nights ago, we can beat
anybody,” said O’Bryant.
The Braves finished 26-of-32 from the line, led by O’Bryant and Sommerville,
who combined to make 15-of-17. Pittsburgh managed to get to the stripe only 11
times, but made 10.
“They got to the line 32 times and shot 81 percent, and that’s a lot of
points,” said Pittsburgh head coach Jamie Dixon. “They made the free throws.”
Bradley scored the first six points of the game while Pittsburgh struggled
mightily on offense. The Panthers turned the ball over on each of their first
five possessions and missed their first seven shots before Young hit a jumper
in the lane with 11:48 remaining in the half.
The Braves, though, answered with the next six points and opened a 16-4 edge
midway through the half.
Pittsburgh countered with a 14-3 run and pulled within 19-18 on a drive by
Fields. Will Franklin followed with a three-pointer to keep Bradley in front,
but the Panthers managed to keep it close and a shot from beyond the arc by
Fields in the closing seconds sent Pittsburgh into the break down just 30-29.
Krauser, who picked up two early fouls, struggled in the first half with just
O’Bryant dominated Gray in the battle of seven-footers, making 10-of-17 shots
to Gray’s 5-for-11 effort. Gray finished with 12 points…Bradley took just
six three-point shots and made two, while Pittsburgh was 6-of-20 from beyond
the arc…The Braves also committed only eight turnovers, compared to 14 for
the Panthers…The Missouri Valley has split four games against the Big East
in the 2006 NCAA Tournament. In addition to Sunday’s matchup, Wichita State
beat Seton Hall, Southern Illinois lost to West Virginia and Northern Iowa
fell to Georgetown in the first round.