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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

NCAA local watch: Tommy Lloyd, Tony Bennett, Leon Rice all bounced on tournament’s opening day

Arizona's Oumar Ballo reacts as the Princeton Tigers celebrate after defeating the Wildcats in the first round of the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Golden 1 Center on March 16, 2023 in Sacramento, California.  (Getty Images)
From staff and wire reports

From staff and wire reports

Tommy Lloyd’s second appearance in the NCAA Tournament didn’t last long.

A year after Arizona made the Sweet 16 in Lloyd’s first season as head coach, the Wildcats lost to No. 15 seed Princeton 59-55 on Thursday in a shocking first-round game in Sacramento, California.

It was a rough first day for several coaches and players with local ties. Former Washington State coach Tony Bennett and his Virginia Cavaliers, seeded fourth in the South Region, lost to No. 13 Furman 68-67 in Orlando, Florida. And ex-Gonzaga assistant Leon Rice and his 10th-seeded Boise State Broncos – featuring former Spokane high school standouts Tyson Degenhart and Naje Smith – fell to Northwestern 75-67 in Sacramento.

But no loss was as stunning as Lloyd’s, the longtime Gonzaga assistant coach who led Arizona (28-7) to the Pac-12 Tournament championship and the No. 2 seed in the West Region.

After trailing most of the game, Princeton’s tight defense and crisp passing allowed the Tigers to go on several runs in the second half, including a 9-0 run to close the game. Princeton held Arizona without a field goal for the final 4:43 of the game.

“If you want to be a great player, you want to be a great coach, we all got to learn from this,’” Lloyd said. “We got to go back and figure out what happened and understand the value of being up 10 to 12 points with 10 minutes to go, putting the hammer on people, not letting people get back in the game.”Former Gonzaga big man Oumar Ballo had 13 points and 12 rebounds for Arizona.

Bennett, who was head coach at WSU from 2006-09 and led the Cougars to back-to-back NCAA tourney appearances, saw his Cavaliers drop another high-profile game in the first round. Bennett guided Virginia to the NCAA Tournament championship in 2019, a year after his team became the first No. 1 seed to lose to a 16-seed (UMBC).

“This game is – interesting might be the word I’d use,” Bennett said. “You feel like we got it, and then all of sudden in a moment’s notice it changes at the end. That’s tough. It’s just that feeling of it’s there. I think we’re going to the second round, or whatever round we call it now, and then it’s gone. That’s a gut punch.”For Rice and Boise State, the loss extended the Broncos’ winless NCAA streak to nine. Max Rice led BSU with 17 points and Smith – a Lewis and Clark grad – added 14. Degenhart, Boise State’s leading scorer from Mt. Spokane, was held to eight points.

First round

Thursday’s results

(8) Maryland 67, (9) West Virginia 65

(7) Missouri 76, (10) Utah State 65

(5) San Diego State 63, (12) Charleston 57

(13) Furman 68, (4) Virginia 67

(15) Princeton 59, (2) Arizona 55

(1) Kansas 96, (16) Howard 68

(1) Alabama 96, (16) Texas A&M-CC 75

(8) Arkansas 73, (9) Illinois 63

(9) Auburn 83, (8) Iowa 75

(5) Duke 74, (12) Oral Roberts 51

(2) Texas 81, (15) Colgate 61

(7) Northwestern 75, (10) Boise State 67

(1) Houston 63, (16) Northern Kentucky 52

(4) Tennessee 58, (13) Louisiana 55

(10) Penn State 76, (7) Texas A&M 59

(2) UCLA 86, (15) UNC Asheville 53

Friday’s games

Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio

(10) USC vs. (7) Michigan State, 9:15 a.m.

(15) Vermont vs. (2) Marquette, 11:45 a.m.

(16) Fairleigh Dickinson vs. (1) Purdue, 3:50 p.m.

(9) Florida Atlantic vs. (8) Memphis, 6:20 p.m.

Greensboro (North Carolina) Coliseum

(14) Kennesaw State vs. (3) Xavier, 9:40 a.m.

(11) Pittsburgh vs. (6) Iowa State, 12:10 p.m.

(11) Providence vs. (6) Kentucky, 4:10 p.m.

(14) Montana State vs. (3) Kansas State, 6:40 p.m.

Ball Arena in Denver

(14) UC Santa Barbara vs. (3) Baylor, 10:30 a.m.

(11) NC State vs. (6) Creighton, 1 p.m.

(14) Grand Canyon vs. (3) Gonzaga, 4:35 p.m.

(11) Arizona State vs. (6) TCU, 7:05 p.m.

MVP Arena in Albany, New York

(12) VCU vs. (5) Saint Mary’s, 11 a.m.

(13) Iona vs. (4) Connecticut, 1:30 p.m.

(12) Drake vs. (5) Miami, 4:25 p.m.

(13) Kent State vs. (4) Indiana, 6:55 p.m.