March 19, 2005

(7) West Virginia 111, (2) Wake Forest 105, 2OT

CLEVELAND -- Shooting at baskets he practiced on all summer, former Cleveland prep star Mike Gansey fashioned yet another West Virginia upset -- this one in two overtimes.

The junior guard scored a career-high 29 points -- 19 of them in the two overtimes -- and the Mountaineers sent No. 2 seed Wake Forest to another stunning second-round loss, 111-105 on Saturday night.

West Virginia (23-10) will play Texas Tech next in the Albuquerque Regional, its deepest tournament run since it also made the round of 16 in 1998. The Mountaineers have beaten seven Top 25 teams this season, a school record.

The crowd at Cleveland State rooted Wisconsin-Milwaukee to an upset of Boston College in the first game, then reveled as Wake Forest (27-6) became the first ACC team knocked out of the tournament.

Wake Forest's 105 points were the second most for a losing team in tournament history, not the legacy the Demon Deacons wanted for one of their most promising seasons.

High expectations accompanied the Demon Deacons, who also lost in the second round as a No. 2 seed in 2003. They returned every scholarship player from last season, were ranked No. 1 in the country for two weeks and set a school record for wins in the NCAA opener.

The burden appeared to weigh on them in their 70-54 win over Chattanooga on Thursday. Several players conceded they felt some opening-game jitters.

This time, they couldn't hold onto a 13-point halftime lead or hold off a team that has made its mark by knocking off Top 25 teams. West Virginia tore through the Big East tournament to reach the finals, developing a knack for big finishes.

None was bigger than this one.

Gansey, a prep star for a suburban school who worked out at Cleveland State over the summer and had about 300 friends and relatives in the stands, made a free throw that tied it at 77 with 21 seconds left in regulation.

The frenetic pace stretched into overtime, with neither team ahead by more than a couple of baskets. It was tied at 93 when Wake Forest center Eric Williams blocked Johannes Herber's driving layup with 2 seconds to go at the end of the first overtime.

Wake Forest point guard Chris Paul scored 10 points in the first overtime, then fouled out with 3:24 to go in the second, walking slowly to the bench. Gansey had 10 in the first overtime and nine more in the second.

Wake Forest's Trent Strickland missed a 3-pointer with 29 seconds left in the second overtime, and Herber's fastbreak layup sealed it with 13 seconds to go. Patrick Beilein, the son of West Virginia coach John Beilein, threw the ball the length of the floor in jubilation when the buzzer sounded.

In the second half, West Virginia started holding its own inside and D'or Fischer, the star of the tournament's 2001 play-in game, momentarily took the stage again, turning it into a game.

Fischer, who blocked nine shots in Northwestern State's play-in win and later transferred to West Virginia, had a three-point play, a dunk and a block during a 10-3 spurt that cut it to 54-51 midway through the second half.

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