NCAA TOURNAMENT ROUNDUP: Wichita State ousts Gonzaga
Cleanthony Early and Ron Baker scored 16 points apiece and Wichita State hit 14 3-pointers, including seven straight late, to knock the top-ranked and No. 1-seeded Bulldogs out of the NCAA tournament with a 76-70 victory in the West Regional at Salt Lake City on Saturday night.
The Shockers (28-8) advanced to the round of 16 for the first time since 2006, while Gonzaga becomes the first top seed to be eliminated.
Gonzaga survived a scare in its first game against Southern but couldn’t hold up against a fellow mid-major from Kansas with the motto “play angry.”
The Shockers face the winner of today’s game between La Salle and Ole Miss.
Wichita State had the Zags down 13 early. Though Gonzaga (32-3) fought back, the barrage of 3s was too much for the small school from Spokane, Wash.
Kelly Olynyk scored 26 points to lead Gonzaga, and Kevin Pangos had 19.
While Gonzaga held the top spot in the AP Top 25 over the final weeks of the season, skeptics thought of the Bulldogs as a soft No. 1 seed that benefited from a relatively easy schedule in the West Coast Conference while other top contenders were getting banged around in the power conferences.
One thing is certain: Wichita State was not intimidated.
“They never quit,” Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall said.
“You know we got the big lead, Gonzaga makes a great run as a No. 1 team in the country would, and these guys dig down.”
Shockers, for sure.
They showed their grit after Gonzaga’s 12-0 run gave the Bulldogs a 49-41 lead with 11:53 left. Back-to-back 3-pointers by Pangos and Michael Hart started it, Olynyk hit a jumper then a pair of free throws, and Pangos capped it with a steal and fast-break layup.
But Wichita State outscored the Zags 35-21 from there.
Tekele Cotton, Early and Baker hit three straight 3s to get the Shockers within 61-60.
Baker’s free throws gave Wichita State the lead for good at 64-63 with 3:10 left. He then hit a 3 and freshman Fred VanVleet helped seal it with a final 3 with 1:28 remaining.
The Shockers, who made just 2 of 20 3-pointers in their 18-point win over Pitt on Thursday, shot 50 percent from beyond the arc and 50 percent overall.
“They deserve ton of credit,” Gonzaga coach Mark Few said. “It’s the first time in a while someone made 50 percent on us, and to bang in 14 3s (overall) is pretty amazing.”
ARIZONA 74, HARVARD 51: Arizona put an emphatic end to Harvard’s March Madness success story in the West Regional.
Mark Lyons matched his career high with 27 points to lead the sixth-seeded Wildcats (27-7). Arizona sprinted to a 30-9 lead, as the Crimson (20-10) missed 20 of its first 22 shots.
Lyons led Arizona to the program’s 15th appearance in the Sweet 16. The Wildcats will play Iowa State or Ohio State next week in Los Angeles.
Harvard, meanwhile, goes home with its first NCAA win in tow. The 14th-seeded Crimson beat third-seeded New Mexico on Thursday but couldn’t recreate the magic.
Kenyatta Smith led Harvard with 10 points. Freshman Siyani Chambers lost part of his front tooth after Arizona’s Kevin Parrom elbowed him in the face.
MARQUETTE 74, BUTLER 72: Vander Blue scored 19 second-half points to rally third-seeded Marquette out of another hole, and the Golden Eagles survived Butler to reach the round of 16 in the East Regional at Lexington, Ky.
Like November’s first meeting between the teams at the Maui Invitational, won 72-71 by Butler on Rotnei Clarke’s buzzer-beating 3-pointer, this was a back-and-forth, high-intensity affair that came down to the final shot.
Only this time, Butler missed.
Marquette (25-8) will meet the winner of Sunday’s game between Illinois and Miami (Fla.) on Thursday in the East Regional semifinals at Washington, D.C.
Blue, who made a last-second layup to beat Davidson in Marquette’s first tournament game, scored 29 points.
Clarke’s 24 points led Butler (28-9).
After Jamil Wilson’s two free throws made it 71-69, Davante Gardner deflected Clarke’s pass intended for Kellen Dunham underneath and then made the first of three late free throws for 74-70 lead with 4.7 seconds left.
After Wilson’s goaltend on what would have been a layup by Andrew Smith cut the lead to two 2 seconds later, Blue almost became the goat by throwing away the inbounds pass intended for Wilson with 2.9 seconds left.
The Bulldogs, who seem to win every close game at this time of year, couldn’t get a good last look. Smith took an off-balance 3 from up top that was way off, slamming into the backboard and setting off another Marquette celebration.
SYRACUSE 66, CALIFORNIA 60: C.J. Fair scored 18 points, James Southerland added 14 and fourth-seeded Syracuse survived a second-half drought of more than 12 minutes without a field goal to beat No. 12 seed California in the East Regional at San Jose, Calif.
The Orange (28-9) frustrated California with their zone defense to overcome a dismal shooting night when they made just 39 percent of their shots and missed 15 of 41 free throws.
But it proved to be enough to send Syracuse to Washington, D.C., for the East Regional where the Orange will take on the winner of Sunday’s game between top-seeded Indiana and Temple on Thursday.
Richard Solomon scored 22 points for the Golden Bears (21-12), who were trying to make it to the round of 16 for the first time in 16 years and just the third time since 1960.
LOUISVILLE 82, COLORADO STATE 56: Russ Smith had another big night, leading four players in double figures with 27 points, and top-seeded Louisville is into the Midwest Region semifinals in Lexington, Ky.
The Cardinals put on a defensive clinic as they dismantled Colorado State. Louisville forced the eighth-seeded Rams into a season-high 20 turnovers, made Colton Iverson look as invisible as a 6-foot-10 guy can be and limited one of the nation’s best rebounding teams to 24 boards, more than a dozen below their average.
It was the 12th straight win for Louisville (31-5), which will play Oregon on Friday in Indianapolis.
OREGON 74, SAINT LOUIS 57: Damyean Dotson scored 23 points, Carlos Emory added 14 points and hot-shooting Oregon sprinted past fourth-seeded Saint Louis in the Midwest Regional in Lexington, Ky.
Dotson made his first five 3-pointers to carry the 12th-seeded Ducks (28-8) into the second weekend for the first time since 2007, when they lost to eventual repeat champion Florida in the regional final. Oregon made 8 of 11 shots from beyond the arc, while the Billikens finished 3 for 21 from long range.
Kwamain Mitchell scored 18 points and Dwayne had 16 points and nine rebounds for the Billikens (28-7), who set a school record for wins this season following the death of coach Rick Majerus in December.
MICHIGAN STATE 70, MEMPHIS 48: Gary Harris scored 16 of his career-high 23 points in the first half to help third-seeded Michigan State reach the round of 16 for the fifth time in six years in the South Regional in Auburn Hills, Mich.
Michigan State (27-8) will play the winner of the Duke-Creighton game on Friday in the Midwest Regional semifinals at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
The Tigers (31-5) advanced in the NCAA tournament for the first time in Josh Pastner’s four seasons. The Conference USA champions were eliminated in the third round because they struggled to stop Harris on the outside or his teammates inside all afternoon.
The Spartans’ top post players — Adreian Payne and Derrick Nix — combined for 27 points and 18 rebounds.
MICHIGAN 78, VCU 53: Mitch McGary had 21 points and 14 rebounds, and fourth-seeded Michigan breezed through Virginia Commonwealth’s vaunted pressure with a clinical performance and advanced to the round of 16 for the first time since 1994 in the South Regional at Auburn Hills, Mich.
VCU (27-9) was relentless in a 46-point rout of Akron on Thursday night, but the Rams met their match against Michigan’s cool-headed backcourt. Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr. rarely looked rattled against VCU, and although Michigan (28-7) committed 12 turnovers, the Rams couldn’t turn many of them into quick scoring opportunities.
McGary, a 6-foot-10 freshman, set season highs in scoring and rebounding.
The 71-point swing by VCU — from a 46-point win to a 25-point loss — was the largest in NCAA tournament history, according to STATS. In 1968, Houston beat Texas Christian 103-68, then lost to UCLA 101-69 for a 67-point swing.
The Wolverines will play the winner of Sunday’s game between Kansas and North Carolina in Arlington, Texas.