Memphis survives big first-round scare

Memphis survives big first-round scare

Published Mar. 19, 2009 11:05 p.m. ET

After battling heartbreak and tragedy just to reach the NCAA tournament, the Matadors of Cal State-Northridge ran into the greatest game of Roburt Sallie's life.

Memphis hangs on

Video: Hear from the players and coaches after Memphis rallied to avoid an upset against Cal State Northridge in the opening round.

Finally, something proved too much to overcome.

Sallie, averaging 4.5 points all year for Memphis, hit 10 3-pointers and scored 35 as the second-seeded Tigers beat the plucky Matadors 81-70 Thursday, dodging what would have been one of the biggest upsets in tournament history.

"Coach said keep shooting," said Sallie, whose previous career high was 13. "None of my teammates would ever expect me to score 35 points. I never made 10 3-pointers before."

Neither did anyone else in the first round of the NCAA tournament. Sallie's onslaught erased the first-round record and enabled Memphis (32-3) to avoid the stigma of being just the fifth No. 2 seed to lose to a No. 15 since the tournament went to a 64-team format in 1985.