Wichita St. 76, Gonzaga 70

Gonzaga eliminated by Wichita State in shocker

Team goes deep to defeat top-ranked Zags

Chadrack Lufile celebrates with teammates and coaches after Wichita State’s upset win.
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images
Chadrack Lufile celebrates with teammates and coaches after Wichita State’s upset win.

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 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 this year.


Gonzaga survived a scare Thursday against Southern, but couldn’t hold up against a fellow mid-major whose motto is ‘‘play angry.’’

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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 threes 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.’’

The Shockers 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 treys 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 three and freshman Fred VanVleet helped seal it with a final trey 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 a 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 threes is pretty amazing.’’

It was another sudden end to an amazing ride for Gonzaga. The Bulldogs were playing in their 15th straight NCAA Tournament but have not advanced past the Round of 16 since 1999.

‘‘I think we just . . . let our guard down a little bit,’’ said Hart. ‘‘That was key. We defended so well at start of the second half, then we just lost some guys. You can’t do that when guys get it going. You gotta get a hand up and stay close to your assignments. We kind of lost it there a few possessions and that really hurt us.’’

While the Zags left disappointed, the Shockers stayed fairly low key in victory.

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.

‘‘Man, it means a lot,’’ the Shockers’ Carl Hall said. ‘‘It means a lot to this program and our fans deserve this.’’