Gonzaga guard David Stockton (11) drives to the basket in the first half of the game against the Southern University Jaguars during the second round of the 2013 NCAA tournament at EnergySolutions Arena. (Photo: Steve Dykes, USA TODAY Sports)
SALT LAKE CITY (USA TODAY) -- Sorry, Gonzaga, your reign as America's favorite underdog is over.
much was clear as the crowd at EnergySolutions Arena stood and cheered
every Southern University bucket and block and every Gonzaga missed shot
and foul Thursday, as the scrappy No. 16-seeded Jaguars put a serious
scare into the No. 1-seeded Bulldogs.
Gonzaga advances to play No. 9 Wichita State.
Gonzaga escaped with a 64-58 win,
thanks to a late crowd-quieting three-pointer by guard Kevin Pangos and
a 21-point, 10-rebound performance from center Kelly Olynyk. Gonzaga
players lunched on barbecue pork sandwiches in a subdued winning locker
room a few minutes later, relieved to have advanced to Saturday's
third-round against No. 9 Wichita State.
"They played with no
fear, they had nothing to lose," Pangos said. "We got caught off guard a
little bit, and that's not how we want to play, but we'll learn from it
heading into Saturday."
The Bulldogs will face a Wichita State
team that upset No. 8 Pittsburgh earlier Thursday 73-55, in a bruising
battle that proved the Shockers the more aggressive, physical team.
group thinks they can beat anyone in the country, and they're not
intimidated," Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall said. "They're not
going to lose their confidence. ... So I just feel that they can go out
(Saturday) against an unbelievable Gonzaga team, a No. 1 seed, and give
them a good battle."
In the teams' only meeting, in December 1994, Wichita State won in overtime 54-53.
players admitted they knew little about the Shockers. That was by
design, coach Mark Few said, as he wanted the week spent preparing for
Southern. Every bit of that preparation was needed.
frankly, I couldn't tell you the names of their bigs," Olynyk said of
the Shockers. "I'm not sure who they are. Obviously they're good."
was Southern, winner of the Southwestern Athletic Conference, playing
with a confidence uncanny for a 16 seed. Southern made basket after
basket in the first half, including five three-pointers, and trailed by
only three points at halftime.
It's not unusual for a No. 16 seed
to hang for a while in these opening-round games. But Gonzaga (32-2), a
top seed for the first time in school history, just couldn't shake
Southern (23-10), even as Olynyk returned to his dominant self in the
second half, when he scored 17 points.
Gonzaga built an 11-point
lead midway through the second half, but the Jaguars just kept shooting,
just kept shooting, and drew to within 54-52 when guard Derick Beltran
sank a three-pointer with 5:21 to play.
But Southern never managed
to take a lead, and when Pangos drained a three right in front of the
Gonzaga bench with just under two minutes to play, the Bulldogs were
safe from the upset.
"Any win in the tournament is a good win,"
Olynyk said. "So we have to kind of take that into consideration and
then move forward."
Jaguars, meanwhile, will return home to Baton Rouge, La., with a heck
of a story about the time they nearly knocked off a No. 1 seed. They
will talk about seniors such as Beltran, who hit four three-pointers, or
guard Jameel Grace, who had seven rebounds and four assists. But in a
teary locker room, they took no consolation in almost making history.
"No one likes a loser, and unfortunately that's what we were today," Grace said.
coach Roman Banks, also teary, seemed reluctant for the tournament to
be over. He pledged to become a better coach from the experience, and
thanked his players for a memorable season - not just a memorable game.
has been an amazing ride for us," he said. "May we learn, future
Jaguars and in the locker room, that we want to make this an annual