After winning the program's first NCAA tournament game in 30 years, James Madison sounds as if it's not done.
A.J. Davis, who stepped in as a starter because the leading scorer was suspended for a half, led the way with 20 points as the Dukes beat LIU Brooklyn 68-55 on Wednesday night in the First Four.
Immediately, their thoughts turned to top-seeded Indiana (27-6), who they'll play on the same University of Dayton Arena court on Friday night.
"They're Indiana," defiant defensive stalwart Andre Nation said. "We know about them. We see them on the TV all the time. It's not nothing new."
He's not the only Duke who was undaunted.
"We have some older guys. They're typically pretty unafraid of any of the challenges we face," coach Matt Brady said.
James Madison was without suspended starter Rayshawn Goins for the first half but built a big lead. After the Blackbirds (20-14) battled back to take a brief lead, the Dukes surged again to win going away by closing the game on a 10-2 run.
Davis opened the game with an emphatic 3 as if to say this was his time. And he didn't let up.
"Coach said don't do anything outside of your character, just be humble and play your game," Davis said. "While Rayshawn was sitting out, a couple of guys came off the bench and stepped up for us."
Charles Cooke, who hadn't scored in three of his last four games, added 15 points and Nation added 14 for the Dukes, who were winless in the NCAA tournament since 1983 and hadn't played in the big dance in 19 years.
Jamal Olasewere had 20 points and 10 rebounds and C.J. Garner 16 points for the Blackbirds, who have lost in their first game in each of their six trips to the tournament, including the last three years.
Goins, JMU's leading scorer (12.7) and rebounder (7.4), was suspended for the first half following a weekend arrest. Police in Harrisonburg, Va., said they were called to break up a party early Sunday morning and Goins was shouting obscenities at them.
Yet Brady, who made the call to sit Goins, is 1-0 in NCAA play.
"Some of the greats of the game have been in the NCAA tournament and have struck out for a few years at a time," he said, shaking his head. "This really says more about this team than it does me. These seniors really wanted the opportunity to win a game for our program, and I feel great for our kids."
After falling behind by as many as 12 points early, E.J. Reed's two foul shots with 15:02 left gave the Blackbirds their first lead of the game. But after falling behind, JMU found another gear.
Devon Moore, who had six assists, scored in transition right through the heart of the lane, Nation hit a follow and Davis took a long pass and popped in the shot off glass for a 45-40 advantage.
Nation then blocked a shot — one of 10 by the Dukes — at the other end and tossed a halfcourt lead pass to Cooke, who dunked while being fouled. His three-point play made it a 9-0 run for a 48-40 lead with under 12 minutes left.
Credit to the defence
The Blackbirds never got closer than five points again.
Olasewere gave credit to JMU's defence.
"[Nation] had five blocks as a guard," he said softly. "Around the rim, he made me struggle."
Goins came in early in the second half but appeared out of synch for several minutes. After missing his first three shots badly, he finally got on the board with a muscular move inside on a putback with 7:36 left to push the lead to 56-51. The next trip down the floor, he scored again, this time off a nifty assist pass inside from Ron Curry.
It was not a huge falloff going to Davis in the starting lineup in place of Goins, since Davis was MVP of the Colonial Athletic Association tournament just over a week ago, and came in averaging 20.5 in his last 10 games and 20.7 in the CAA tourney.
"My teammates are finding me and Coach is drawing up good plays for me," Davis said. "We're just playing confident and playing within our system."
The Blackbirds came in trying to duplicate the success of fellow Northeast Conference member Robert Morris, which stunned defending national champion Kentucky 59-57 in the opening round of the NIT on Tuesday night.
They had also weathered their share of adversity. They opened 0-4 and then lost Julian Boyd, their conference's top player the year before, with a season-ending knee injury after eight games.
After scoring at least 90 points in their last four games, they were held to 36 per cent shooting for the game (23 per cent in the second half) and had difficulty stringing together baskets against JMU's sticky defence.
"Plain and simple, they really bothered our shots," first-year coach Jack Perri said. "That was something we weren't necessarily thinking was going to happen."
Now, the Dukes have taken a step toward reminding people how dangerous they used to be.
Once upon a time, Lou Campanelli coached the Dukes to mammoth NCAA upsets over Georgetown in 1981, Ohio State in 1982 and West Virginia in 1983. The 1982 team lost to eventual national champion North Carolina — led by Michael Jordan, James Worthy and Sam Perkins — 52-50 in the final minute.
But James Madison's last appearance came with Lefty Driesell prowling the sideline in 1994.
Brady figured his Dukes have one huge advantage over Indiana since they've already played on the court. And they're already in Dayton.
"I'm hoping they haven't arrived in town just yet and they get here right before the game starts," he said with a laugh.
La Salle 80, Boise State 71
Hitting shot after shot wasn't enough to get Boise State its first NCAA tournament win.
Yes, La Salle was that good.
Tyrone Garland led La Salle's guard-driven offence with 22 points, and the Explorers wrapped up the NCAA tournament's First Four by getting the better of an old-fashioned shootout, beating Boise State 80-71 on Wednesday night.
It was a notable moment for the 13th-seeded Explorers (22-9), who hadn't even been in the tournament for 21 years. Now, they head to Kansas City to play fourth-seeded Kansas State on Friday.
Thirteenth-seeded Boise State (21-11) got its first at-large bid and was looking for the first NCAA tournament win in its history. The Broncos were up to it in a game of try-to-top-this shooting, falling to 0-6 in the tournament.
Anthony Drmic had a game-high 28 points for the Broncos, who shot 49 per cent but trailed most of the way. They couldn't keep up in a wide-open game of top-this-shot.
"We didn't shoot the ball that bad," Drmic said. "Give them credit. But it starts with defence. We didn't come to play defence. We couldn't stop them driving, so I'm not very happy with that."
Ramon Galloway, one of the Atlantic 10's top scorers, added 21 points in a fast-paced offence that did pretty much whatever it wanted. The Explorers shot a season-high 63 per cent from the field — 16 of 22 in the second half.
Garland went 9 of 11 from the field — his best shooting game of the season — and the Explorers were 11 of 21 behind the arc.
In essence, the Explorers beat the Broncos at their own small-ball game.
"We've played small all year and probably had an advantage because of that," coach Leon Rice said. "But with their guards and their quickness, they play small too, and they were quicker than us.
"Garland's the quickest player we've faced, I think, this year. They just created so many problems because when they're shooting the ball like that, they can drive a hard bargain at anybody."
La Salle is back in the tournament for the first time since 1992, a span that included a rape scandal involving three players. The men's and women's basketball coaches were fired over it in 2004, and Giannini came in to dig out the program.
Giannini led the Explorers to back-to-back 20-win seasons for the first time since 1988-90. His first coaching appearance in the NCAA tournament completed the rebuilding. Now, the Explorers head to Kansas City, the place where they won the national title by beating Bradley in 1954.
Although the two teams had never played, they felt like they knew each other from somewhere. They saw mirror images of themselves as they watched videos in preparation for the game — two teams that use four guards, taking an uncommonly small approach to a big man's game.
La Salle's best is the 6-foot-3 Galloway, who was second in the Atlantic 10 with 17 points per game. He's taken on a bigger role since 6-foot-11 centre Steve Zack sprained his left foot in early March, sidelining him indefinitely. Zack was on crutches Wednesday, towering over the rest of the Explorers during warmups.
Boise State follows the lead of Drmic (17.3 points) and Derrick Marks (16.3), who formed the highest-scoring guard tandem in the Mountain West. The Broncos will sometimes put five guards on the floor, opting for speed over size.
The Broncos' concession to size got them going early. Six-foot-9 forward Ryan Watkins scored their first three baskets, getting the ball inside. La Salle went with its slick guards, who quickly settled in behind the arc.
Sam Mills hit three 3s, Galloway scored his first points off a drive to the basket, and Garland and D.J. Peterson made layups for a 22-12 midway through the first half, prompting Boise State to call a timeout.
The Explorers would never be seriously threatened again.
Garland's alley-oop pass to Galloway for a dunk off a fast break gave La Salle its biggest lead, 31-17, with 5:24 left in the half. La Salle led 35-27 at the break.
Six-foot-8 forward Jerrell Wright — the Explorers' inside threat — scored four baskets in the first five minutes of the second half, keeping La Salle in control. Mills' 3-pointer extended the lead back to 14 points with 14 minutes to go.
Drmic kept the Broncos in the game, scoring 14 points in the first 10 minutes of the second half. But Boise State couldn't stop La Salle's balanced offence long enough to make a run until the closing minutes.
Marks' pull-up jumper cut it to 74-68 with 1:51 left, the closest the Broncos had been since the opening minute of the second half. The comeback ended there.