Wichita State looked well on its way to the NCAA tournament's first round on Thursday.
But Drake erased a 12-point second-half deficit to take a 46-45 lead and held on in a frantic finish down the stretch to secure a 53-52 First Four win in a battle of No. 11 seeds. The win secures a date with No. 6 USC on Saturday in the NCAA tournament's first round.
Drake survives chaotic finish
Drake appeared to have the comeback secured with possession of the ball and a 53-49 lead with less than 20 seconds remaining. But Wichita State's Dexter Dennis converted a Drake turnover into a 3-pointer on the other end, cutting the Bulldogs' lead to 53-52 with 8.1 seconds left.
When Joseph Yesufu missed the front end of a one-and-one on the other end with 5.3 seconds left, Wichita State had one last chance. It came up painfully short when Alterique Gilbert's 3-point heave clanged off the front of the rim as the buzzer sounded.
The win is the first NCAA tournament victory for Drake since 1971. For the Shockers, it marks a sudden ending to a tumultuous season that saw the departure of former head coach Gregg Marshall in November amid allegations of player abuse.
Yesufu leads the way, provides tourney's first highlight
Yesufu led the way for Drake with 21 points, three assists, two rebounds and two steals. He also provided the tournament's first highlight-worthy clip with a breakaway slam over Wichita State's Clarence Jackson in the first half.
The game was the second of the day after Texas Southern edged Mount St. Mary's in a battle of 16 seeds earlier Thursday. The Tigers' 60-52 win marked the first NCAA tournament game in two years after last season's tournament was canceled at the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
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