AUBURN HILLS, Mich. — Before he could celebrate his first NCAA tournament victory as a head coach, Josh Pastner had to sweat out a couple of frantic seconds.
Memphis held on — though the Tigers learned quite a lesson about how quickly a game can slip away.
Matthew Dellavedova's 3-pointer from the right wing sailed long as time expired, allowing the sixth-seeded Tigers to breathe a sigh of relief. Memphis beat 11th-seeded St. Mary's 54-52 on Thursday after nearly blowing a five-point lead in the last few seconds.
"All I know is when you wake up the next morning, it's a 'W' — at this time of the year, it's win, baby, win. Survive and advance," Pastner said.
The Tigers (31-4) led by 15 in the first half but nearly gave the game away at the end. With Memphis up 54-49, Eividas Petrulis banked in a 3-pointer with 3.1 seconds to play. The Tigers then lost the ball when the Gaels' Jordan Giusti deflected the inbound pass off Joe Jackson of Memphis and out of bounds.
"I should've called a timeout. It was my fault, but I just wanted to get it in to one of our best free throw shooters," Memphis sophomore Adonis Thomas said. "It bounced off Joe. It was on me. I should've called a timeout at the end, but the game was going so fast."
St. Mary's (28-7) was out of timeouts but had a chance to regroup while officials reviewed the previous sequence. The extra time didn't matter. Dellavedova, the career leader in scoring for St. Mary's, was able to get a shot off, but it missed everything.
"As soon as Delli got the ball in the corner, we all thought it was going to go in," St. Mary's forward Brad Waldow said. "We knew it was going to go in, but it just didn't fall. That's it."
It was the first win in the NCAA tournament for Memphis since 2009, when John Calipari was still coach. The Tigers face third-seeded Michigan State on Saturday.
D.J. Stephens had nine points and eight blocks for Memphis, and Jackson had 14 points and seven assists. Waldow scored 17 points to lead St. Mary's. Dellavedova had 10 points, seven assists and six turnovers in 40 minutes.
The Gaels beat Middle Tennessee on Tuesday night in the First Four, but they fell way behind in the first half against Memphis and struggled all game with the Tigers' athleticism, especially around the basket.
Memphis finished with 12 blocks. St. Mary's had none.
"We knew that Dellavedova was the floor general for this team," Stephens said. "The plan for the game was to pretty much keep the ball out of his hands as much as we could — make somebody else have to initiate the offense. And we were pressing, making sure he couldn't get the ball and bring it up the floor, and it kind of threw them out of rhythm a little bit."
Louisville 79, N.C. A&T 48
Russ Smith scored 23 points and set a Louisville NCAA tournament record with a career-high eight steals, and Peyton Siva had eight assists as the Cardinals demolished North Carolina A&T in Lexington, Ky.
Louisville finished with a season-high 20 steals as it forced the Aggies (20-17) into 27 turnovers. It was the 11th straight win for the Cardinals (30-5).
Colorado St. 84, Missouri 72
Dorian Green scored 17 of his 26 points in the first half and eighth-seeded Colorado State used good shooting to run away from Missouri in Lexington, Ky.
Green, who went scoreless with five turnovers in last year's second-round upset to Murray State, did much better this time as the Rams shot nearly 58 percent in the first half.
Phil Pressey's 20 points led the Tigers (23-11).
Michigan State 65, Valparaiso 54
Derrick Nix had 23 points and a career-high 15 rebounds to help power third-seeded Michigan State past the 14th-seeded Crusaders in the Midwest Regional in Auburn Hills, Mich.
The Spartans went on a 26-5 run in the first half to take control, and cruised to an easy win.
Saint Louis 64, New Mexico State 44
Dwayne Evans scored 24 points, Cody Ellis added 12 points and fourth-seeded Saint Louis overwhelmed New Mexico State in San Jose, Calif.
Playing through the death of Rick Majerus in December, Saint Louis reached another mark for its late coach. The Billikens (28-6) eclipsed the 1988-89 team's school record of 27 victories.