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Epic rally elevates Stephen F. Austin

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SAN DIEGO — The NCAA tournament has a new darling after one of the most improbable finishes in the NCAA tournament’s long bracket-busting history.

Got Jacks?

Pulling off a comeback for the ages, feisty Stephen F. Austin became the latest No. 12 seed to pull off an upset, tying the game on Desmond Haymon’s did-that-just-happen four-point play with 3.6 seconds left, and then holding on in overtime for a 77-75 win over Virginia Commonwealth on Friday night.

“Well, miracles truly do happen,” SFA coach Brad Underwood said.

Pretty regularly these days.

It’s been a wild ride in the NCAA tournament already, a two-day run filled with upsets, buzzer-beaters and millions of crumpled brackets across the country. SFA’s victory marked the fifth overtime game during the round of 64, a tournament record.

SFA didn’t have the biggest upset of the opening two rounds — Mercer probably gets the nod there with its win over Duke — but the Lumberjacks certainly had the most jaw-dropping finish.

Here’s how it went down:

The South Region’s No. 5 seed, VCU (23-10) was firmly in control after its swarming defense flustered SFA during a big second-half run.

The scrappy Lumberjacks (32-2) kept hanging around and clawed their way back in the closing seconds.

Two missed free throws by VCU’s Jordan Burgess with 10 seconds left gave SFA a chance.

The Lumberjacks worked the ball around to the wing, where Haymon launched a 3-pointer and was fouled by JaQuan Lewis just before the ball fell through the basket.

“I just tried to get out and contest it,” Lewis said. “(I) jumped to the side a little bit and kind of fell into him. The ref called a foul.”

Haymon still had some work to do, though.

The crowd still buzzing, VCU coach Shaka Smart called a timeout, trying to ice Haymon. The senior didn’t seem to mind, returning to the court to calmly knock the free throw down.

“I was struggling shooting the ball and I knew to get it going, I was going to have to continue to try to find it (his touch),” Haymon said. “I guess I found that groove with the last shot.”

The tension still wasn’t over.

Following a missed desperation heave at the end of regulation, Haymon put the `Jacks ahead in overtime on a 3-pointer with 2 minutes left.

STANFORD 58, NEW MEXICO 53

Chasson Randle scored 23 points and Stanford made an impression in its first NCAA appearance since 2008, at St. Louis.

The 10th-seeded Cardinal (22-12) built an early 16-point lead then held on after No. 7 seed New Mexico rallied to tie it midway through the second half. They got four crucial free throws from reserve Robbie Lemons and Randle in the final half-minute after New Mexico had cut the deficit to two points.

Cameron Bairstow had 24 points and eight rebounds but the Lobos (27-7) got off-days from their other top threats. Kendall Williams and Alex Kirk, who together average 30 points, combined for just six.

KANSAS 80, EASTERN KENTUCKY 69

Andrew Wiggins scored 19 points, Jamari Traylor and Perry Ellis had double-doubles and second-seeded Kansas pulled away down the stretch to beat pesky Eastern Kentucky in St. Louis.

Traylor finished with 17 points and 14 rebounds, and Ellis had 14 points and 13 boards for the Jayhawks (25-9), who trailed 56-53 with 9 minutes to go before their game-ending charge.

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