NCAA tournament win dampened by Niang’s season-ending injury


Brian Achenbach/Iowa State Daily

Sophomore forward Georges Niang attempts to shoot over a defender during Iowa State’s 93-75 over North Carolina Central in the second round of the 2014 NCAA Basketball Championship at the AT&T Center in San Antonio, TX. Niang lead the Cyclones in scoring with 24 even though he left the game with over seven minutes left with a broken foot.

Alex Halsted

SAN ANTONIO — Georges Niang sat slumped over in his locker room chair, his head down while he scrolled through his phone when Naz Long stepped over and placed his hand on the back of his teammate and roommate’s head.

The ISU locker room was quiet and somber long after the Cyclones pulled away in the second half of their NCAA tournament opener March 21 for a 93-75 win against North Carolina Central.

Niang sat in the corner, his right foot broken and his season over.

“I’m hurting, it hurts,” Niang said quietly. “It hurts more (mentally) I feel like than physically.”

Niang was Iowa State’s closer before he exited with 7:34 remaining, limping on his right foot out of the AT&T Center tunnel for X-rays. Niang landed on teammate Dustin Hogue’s foot with 10:55 to play, thinking it was a cramp.

After hitting a 3-pointer two minutes later, Niang called to the bench for a sub and, with his foot already broken, he hit another short jumper before exiting.

The sophomore forward scored 24 points, including 15 in the first 12-plus minutes of the second half to help Iowa State pull away after leading by six at halftime against the 14th-seeded Eagles. He made 4-of-5 3-pointers and had six rebounds.

“Georges is one of our main guys out there. He’s our leader,” said senior DeAndre Kane. “When things aren’t going right out there we always know we can count on Georges to make a play for us.”

With Iowa State leading by nine with 13:28 remaining in the game and N.C. Central lingering and fighting off runs, Niang hit a 3-pointer on the right wing that started a 19-8 run, where he scored eight of his team’s 19 points.

Five ISU players scored in double figures, including three players appearing in their first NCAA tournament games. Monte Morris and Dustin Hogue scored 15 points each and Kane added 14 in the trio’s first postseason action.

Meanwhile, the Cyclones advanced to the third round of the tournament for the third-straight year with the win where they will face North Carolina on March 23.

There was no celebration afterward as the locker room sat mostly quiet and as Niang scrolled through his phone while teammates passed by with support.

“It’s extremely unfortunate when you have one of your guys go down,” said Melvin Ejim, who scored 17 points. “I definitely feel his pain. We have faith in our guys, we have faith in our team. It sucks, it’s definitely a damper.”

Now the Cyclones move to the round of 32 without one of their top weapons.

“One of our main cogs will be out the rest of the tournament, but we’ll see what we’re made of,” said ISU coach Fred Hoiberg. “Some guys will be asked to step up, they’re itching to get an opportunity to get out there and we’ll see.”

“Adversity hit us tonight and it hit us hard. But I believe in these guys.”