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FIRST FOUR, Game 1 at Dayton: W. Kentucky 59 Miss. Valley State 58

 

President Obama & Prime Minister Cameron in attendance (megasportsnews.com)

(courtesy of Western Kentucky athletics via wikipedia commons)

DAYTON, OHIO — With President Barack Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron in attendance, the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers defeated the Mississippi Valley State Delta Devils, 59-58 in the first game of the 74th NCAA Men’s Basketball Division I Championship.

The Delta Devils led by as many as 16 points, (53-37) in the second half.

The Hilltoppers went on a 22-5 run in the last five minutes to wins its 19th tournament game.

The 15-point deficit by the Hilltoppers with 5 minutes to go was the biggest in that time frame. Before that, the deficit was Illinois coming back to beat Missouri in the 2005 Elite Eight.

T.J. Ford and Derrick Gordon led Western Kentucky with 11 points each. While George Fant and Gordon led the way on the boards with 11 each.

The Hilltoppers are in their 22nd NCAA and have a record of 19-22. Their last win coming in 2009.

Head coach Ray Harper, who took over in the middle of the season, is now 11-7.

Western Kentucky, champions of the Sun Belt Conference, are 16-18 on the season. The only team in the tourney with a losing record.

Mississippi Valley State ends the season at 21-13. They earned their way into the tournament by winning the fifth Southwestern Athletic Conference tournament in their history.

They drop to 0-5 in the NCAA tournament.

The Delta Devils were led by Kevin Burwell with 20 points, William Pugh with 11 and Cor-J Cox with 10.

The Delta Devils were outrebounded 60-32 in the game.

Their head coach is Sean Woods, who played at Kentucky who graduated in 1992. He is one of college basketball’s “Unforgettables” from the Kentucky team which lost to Duke in the 1992 East Regional Final.

The game was the 88th NCAA Championship game hosted by UD Arena, spanning 33 years (1970-2012). The home of the Dayton Flyers became the most-used site in the NCAA Tournament’s history last year while hosting the First Four. UD Arena passed Kansas City’s Municipal Auditorium which 83 games from 1940-1964.

 

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