Virginia Commonwealth 79, Duke 77

Thursday, March 15th 2007, 9:12 pm
By: News On 6

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) _ Duke's done.

Eric Maynor hit a 15-foot jumper with 1.8 seconds left to give Virginia Commonwealth a 79-77 upset victory over the Blue Devils in the first round of the NCAA tournament Thursday night. Maynor finished with 22 points, six of them in the final 1:24.

Duke lost a first-round game for the first time since 1996. The loss also ended the Blue Devils' string of Sweet 16 appearances at nine. It was the longest active streak and second-longest behind North Carolina's 13-year run.

Fittingly, it was VCU (28-6) that knocked off George Mason _ the tournament's surprise team last year _ in the Colonial Athletic Association championship game. Maynor sealed that 65-59 win by scoring nine of his 20 points in the final 2 minutes.

Greg Paulus scored a career-high 25 points for Duke, seeded sixth in the West Regional. Josh McRoberts added a career-high 22 points and had 12 rebounds.

The Rams never led by more than two points. They overcame a 13-point first-half deficit and also trailed by as many as 11 in the second.

Jesse Pellot-Rosa's 16-foot jumper gave VCU a 72-71 lead with 2:03 remaining. The Blue Devils (22-11) tied it three times, the last time at 77 when DeMarcus Nelson went coast-to-coast to hit a layup with 10.3 seconds left.

Maynor took the ensuing inbound pass and carried the ball across center. Driving to the paint, he pulled up and hit a perfect jumper from just above the foul line and over Duke's Jon Scheyer.

The Blue Devils' chance to pull off a last-second victory _ and with Christian Laettner watching from the stands _ failed when Paulus' wild attempt from midcourt hit wide of the basket and off the backboard.