By Kent Larsen
Mormons in NCAAs: BYU, 'Cinderella,' Wisconsin Lose, Utah State, Duke and Stanford Win
NEW YORK, NEW YORK -- With all but one of the college basketball teams with
Mormon players playing in yesterday's games, half of the teams were
eliminated, two of them in very close games. The mostly-Mormon "Cinderella"
team, Southern Utah University, lost to Boston College in a game that was
only decided in the final minute and a half, while Wisconsin, with its
Mormon player Ricky Bower playing at 'home,' lost by just one point to
Georgia State. But Mormons playing on Utah State, Duke and Stanford all saw
wins in their first round games.
Perhaps the most Mormon team in the tournament, BYU, was swamped by
Cincinnati, which simply rolled over the Cougars 84-59. But the more
interesting games were the two losses. Southern Utah led at the half, and
was up by as much as 9 points. With one and a half minutes to go, however,
the Thunderbirds' Jeff Monaco tied the game with a three pointer. Even in
the final seconds of the game, SUU had a chance, but was unable to feed the
ball to Monaco for the three pointer needed to tie the game and force an
Wisconsin suffered a similar fate. Expected by some to win, Wisconsin led by
16 points at the half, and only lost in the final few seconds when Mark
Vershaw missed two free throws. LDS returned missionary Ricky Bower did play
in the game, scoring 6 points for the Badgers.
Neither Stanford nor Duke's wins were surprising, since both teams were
first seeds facing 16th seeds in their regions. Duke's Mormon player, Matt
Christensen, scored 4 points in the game, while Stanford's Mormons, Casey
Jacobsen and Julius Barnes, scored 16 points and 9 points respectively. Utah
State's win was also notable because they upset Ohio State.