Madness grips boro hoopsters

Madness grips boro hoopsters
Louisville’s Samardo Samuels (r.) of Jamaica blocks Siena’s Alex Franklin during a matchup Friday. The top-seeded Cardinals win over the Saints advances them to the Sweet 16 this weekend in the NCAA basketball tournament’s Midwest Regional bracket. AP Photo/Al Behrman
By Five Boro Sports

When Levance Fields grabbed the rebound of his own missed free throw, called timeout and then buried a three-pointer, it was the perfect end of the first half for top-seeded Pittsburgh Saturday afternoon.

And it was a prelude of what was to come at the end of the second-round East Regional Sunday afternoon at UD Arena.

The Brooklyn-born point guard drove to the lane for a layup and then knocked down another three-pointer to give the Panthers a five-point lead with 1:27 left in regulation as Pittsburgh advanced to the East Regional semifinals with an 84-76 win against No. 8 Oklahoma State in Dayton, Ohio.

“As a point guard that’s what you always want,” Fields said, referring to having the ball in his hands late in the game. “And I like to say I think my coach and my teammates, they all trust me in that situation, having the ball. It’s one thing to want it, but to have the faith of your coach and teammates is another. So that’s special in itself.”

The Xaverian alum had 13 points on 5-of-11 shooting and added nine assists as Pittsburgh will take on No. 4 Xavier in the first regional semifinal Thursday in Boston, Mass.

“It’s just about getting it done and finding ways to win,” Fields said. “And we had two tough games, but in both games we found a way to win.”

Also advancing to the Sweet 16 is Queens resident Samardo Samuels and the top-seeded Louisville Cardinals, which defeated No. 9 Siena 79-72 in a Midwest Regional second-round game in Dayton, Ohio, Sunday afternoon.

The freshman forward had 13 points and eight rebounds, while former Rice standout Edgar Sosa added six points and three assists for Louisville, which will take on No. 12 Arizona in a Midwest Regional semifinal Friday in Indianapolis, Ind.

Ryan Rossiter, a sophomore forward out of Monsignor Farrell, struggled for Siena. The Staten Island native had four points and four rebounds in 38 minutes.

Two days after going 10-for-10 from the field and scoring 24 points in a first-round win against Boston College on Friday, Brooklyn native Taj Gibson scored just three points with no rebounds and five blocks in 23 minutes for No. 10 USC in a 74-69 loss to second-seeded Michigan State in a Midwest Regional second-round game Sunday afternoon at the Metrodome in Minneapolis, Minn.

“We wanted to go at him. But they make it difficult, because they’re about as good a defensive team in ways that we played against, too,” Michigan State Coach Tom Izzo said when asked about the strategy against Gibson. “They really swarm the ball well. But the other thing we wanted to do is get help from other guys.”

The 6-foot-9 junior forward was 0-for-3 from the field and mired in foul trouble throughout.

“I knew he had the advantage of quickness and speed over me, so I tried to beat him to every spot,” Michigan State center Goran Suton said. “[I tried] to be physical inside. Just front, front him using my hips. And, like I said, be physical with him.”

Trevon Hughes, who two days earlier converted the game-winning three-point play in overtime to send No. 12 Wisconsin to an upset of fifth-seeded Florida State, had 17 points and four rebounds, but the Badgers lost to fourth-seeded Xavier 60-49 in an East Regional second-round game at Taco Bell Arena in Boise, Idaho, Sunday afternoon.

“We tried to crowd the court more on Trevon Hughes,” Xavier Coach Sean Miller said. “He’s really a physical guard. I didn’t realize how he could get to the basket. And he is strong and tough. [We] tried to use the other four players to make it harder for him to get to the basket, as opposed to just letting the player on our team that was guarding him be on an island.”

The junior guard from Queens was 11-for-13 from the foul line, but shot three-of-16 from the field and 0-for-7 from three-point range against the Musketeers.

“They’re long and athletic,” Hughes said of Xavier, which advances to take on Pittsburgh in the East Regional semifinal. “They challenge every shot we had. We had to alter our shots. It made it a little difficult trying to get our shot off. They’re very quick, so they collapse in the lane when we get in our driving position.”

Dwight Burke, a senior forward from Brooklyn, had five points and 10 rebounds for Marquette in the Golden Eagles’ 83-79 loss to No. 3 Missouri in a West Regional second-round game Sunday in Boise.

The 6-foot-8 forward helped sixth-seeded Marquette hold a 38-27 edge on the glass.

“Nobody ever mentioned Dwight Burke for four straight years,” Marquette Coach Buzz Williams said. “They mentioned [Jerel McNeal, Wesley Matthews and Dominic James]. And for him to carry on and be the teammate and the friend that he is to those other three guys, I think speaks absolute volumes about him.”

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