After years of toppling Goliaths in the NCAA Tournament, Gonzaga found itself on the wrong end of an upset.
In a scintillating back-and-forth affair, No. 9 Wichita State shocked No. 1 Gonzaga, 76-70, in the third round of the 2013 NCAA Tournament. The Shockers took a 36-31 lead into halftime but needed to rally late after the Bulldogs went ahead midway through the second half. Ron Baker, Tekele Cotton and Cleanthony Early all sank key three-point shots as Wichita State roared toward the final buzzer. After a three-point shot by Gonzaga's Kevin Pangos staked the Bulldogs to a 61-54 lead with 5:32 remaining, the Shockers outscored them 22-9 the rest of the way.
"They never quit," Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall said after win, via The Associated Press. "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."
Achieving the No. 1 ranking in the AP Poll for the first time in school history in 2013, Gonzaga entered the NCAA Tournament riding a 14-game winning streak. The regular-season and tournament champions in the West Coast Conference, Gonzaga faced Southern in the second round of the NCAA Tournament and narrowly avoided becoming the first No. 1 seed ever to lose to a No. 16 seed.
Kelly Olynyk scored a game-high 26 points for Gonzaga and Kevin Pangos chipped in 19 in the defeat on Saturday night, including three made three-point shots.
Wichita State earned an at-large spot in the field of 68 after losing to Creighton in the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament final. The Shockers overpowered No. 8 Pittsburgh in the second round to set up their meeting with the Zags. Wichita State advances to face the winner of Ole Miss and La Salle in the regional semifinal of the West Region.
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SALT LAKE CITY — Gonzaga's gone.
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 76-70 on Saturday.
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 the second round against Southern but couldn't hold up against a fellow mid-major from Kansas whose motto is "play angry."
The Shockers face the winner of Sunday'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 sure: 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 Kevin 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.
At one point, Early and teammate Chadrack Lufile jumped up and body slammed each other and the Shockers huddled at midcourt for a long team hug. But largely, Wichita State acted like a team that's been there before.
"We play together, we stick to our goals, we're good teammates," Baker said. He hardly looked fazed.