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Southern vs Gonzaga

No. 1 seed Gonzaga survives upset bid from Southern

CBSSports.com wire reports
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SALT LAKE CITY -- It was every frontrunner's nightmare.

Top-seeded Gonzaga ran into a No. 16 seed that wasn't playing like one, a crowd itching for an upset and the very real prospect of making history in a most embarrassing way.

Somehow, the Zags maneuvered their way out of that mess Thursday with a 64-58 win over Southern University, but not before they provided plenty of fodder for all those who wondered if that small school from the small conference really belonged at the top of the West Region bracket.

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"The more I watched film on them, the more I thought, `This could be a real grinder,"' coach Mark Few said of the Jaguars, champions of the Southwestern Athletic Conference. "They don't give you many easy opportunities. They're very patient on offense."

Gonzaga's win wasn't safely in hand until the final buzzer sounded. No. 1 seeds improved to 113-0 since the NCAA tournament field was expanded to 64 teams in 1985.

Led by Derick Beltran's 21 points, Southern (23-10) made life hard on the West Coast Conference champions from beginning to end, blocking eight shots, making 10 3-pointers, harassing its star player, Kelly Olynyk, and never letting the Bulldogs out of striking range.

Olynyk scored 17 of his 21 points in the second half to help the Zags (32-2) advance to Saturday's game against Wichita State.

But there was no celebration. Just a big sigh of relief.

"That crowd gets going, everyone wants to see that first 1-16 loss," Few said. "My guys deserve credit. They showed a lot of poise down the stretch when things weren't going their way."

And the Jaguars, the team from the school in Baton Rouge, La., with enrollment 6,900, never stopped scrapping.

This was a program nearly wiped off the map three years ago because of an NCAA investigation into problems in the classroom. They still have players on the roster who were around for the 20-plus-loss seasons that ensued. Their coach, Roman Banks, looked to Gonzaga -- tiny school with big dreams -- as the program his players should try to emulate.

"We were basically an unknown ballclub that showed they can play the game of basketball," Banks said. "But we came here to win a ballgame, not play a ballgame."

Though Olynyk was the force that kept Gonzaga ahead through the second half, it was a pair of 3-pointers -- one by Gary Bell Jr., the next by Kevin Pangos -- that gave the Bulldogs their small cushion after Southern tied things at 56 with 3:45 left.

Bell's 3 made it 59-56 after Beltran hit a 14-footer on the baseline to close out a 15-4 Southern run and tie the game.

Beltran answered with two free throws to cut the deficit to one, but Gonzaga responded by working the ball to Pangos, whose 3 made it a four-point game.

Yondarius Johnson and Malcom Miller both had open looks on the next possession for Southern but neither could convert.

The Jaguars did almost everything right in this game, but missed five open shots down the stretch that could have put them over the top.

"From a coaching perspective, you learn that two or three bad possessions can cost you a ballgame," Banks said.

Pangos (16 points) made two free throws with 14.3 seconds left to seal the game. Only then did the Gonzaga cheering section rile up and the rest of the crowd, pulling for the underdog, settle down.

"Everyone was so moved by their effort, their resilience, their confidence," Few said. "If I wasn't coaching on the other sideline, they'd be a tough team not to root for."

This Jaguars will go down among the teams that produced the closest calls in the history of 1 vs. 16 matchups, next to the 1989 Princeton squad that barely lost to Georgetown and the East Tennessee State team that lost to Oklahoma by one in the opening round of the same tournament.

This game provided a fitting start to March Madness 2013 - the closing act to a season filled with upsets, shifts atop the Associated Press poll and no dominant team.

Gonzaga's critics felt the Zags got to No. 1 by default more than anything.

The Zags shut out that talk and said they'd take their first game as NCAA tournament front-runners the way they'd taken the previous 33.

The Jaguars fell behind 7-0 over the first 3 1/2 minutes, but reeled off eight straight points after that. For the rest of the afternoon, this looked nothing like a typical 1-16 matchup. Southern took away the high-low game between Olynyk and forward Elias Harris, frustrated the Zags relentlessly and, during one stretch early in the second half, blocked three of Gonzaga's inside shots in the span of 48 seconds.

Despite its struggles, Gonzaga kept working the ball to Olynyk in the second half. At one point, he had 17 of Gonzaga's 20 second-half points.

"We started calling his number, directing the ball his way a little bit and guys figure out where we're having success," Few said. "Tonight, it was with `KO."'

At the end, what the Bulldogs really needed was another option. Not until then did Bell and Pangos come through.

"Any win in the tournament is a good win," Olynyk said. "We have to kind of take that into consideration and move forward.".

Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
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Scoreboard
Southern #16 312758
Gonzaga #1 «343064
STHRN:D. Beltran 21 Pts
STHRN:J. Grace 7 Reb
STHRN:J. Grace 3 Ast
GONZAG:K. Olynyk 21 Pts
GONZAG:K. Olynyk 10 Reb
GONZAG:D. Stockton 7 Ast

Related Video

 
PLAYERS OF THE GAME
SouthernGonzaga
STHRN
Derick Beltran
GONZAG
Kelly Olynyk
PtsRebsAstPtsRebsAst
213321101
Southern Jaguars
D. Beltran, G396-145-733121
J. Mitchell, C383-41-24237
B. Moore, C292-22-23037
J. Grace, G261-82-27304
C. Monroe, G40-10-00000
M. Miller, F243-120-22019
Y. Johnson, G172-32-31117
C. Hyder, F140-10-00010
M. Bol, C91-10-00123
N. Webb, FDid Not Play
M. Celestin, GDid Not Play
P. Coleman, GDid Not Play
J. Tatum, GDid Not Play
T. Marshall, GDid Not Play
A. Alston, FDid Not Play
Totals 18-4612-1820101258
 39.1%66.7% 
Gonzaga Bulldogs
K. Pangos, G385-122-235216
K. Olynyk, F368-155-7101421
G. Bell Jr., G334-90-020311
E. Harris, F322-101-28005
M. Hart, G140-10-07130
D. Stockton, G291-32-31724
S. Dower, C72-20-11015
D. Barham, G60-10-01010
P. Karnowski, C41-20-03002
G. Landry Edi, F10-00-00000
G. Coleman, GDid Not Play
K. Dranginis, GDid Not Play
R. Bakamus, GDid Not Play
B. Bhaskar, GDid Not Play
Totals 23-5510-1536141664
 41.8%66.7% 
SWAC
TeamConf. W-LTot. W-LRPI Rank
Alabama St.0-03-4232
Southern U.0-03-8293
Grambling0-02-7251
Ark.-PB0-02-9199
Jackson St.0-02-10298
Alabama A&M0-01-7301
Alcorn St.0-01-8328
Texas So.0-01-8227
Miss. Val.0-01-9299
Prairie View0-01-9292

West Coast
TeamConf. W-LTot. W-LRPI Rank
Gonzaga0-010-17
Pepperdine0-07-2241
BYU0-08-360
Portland0-07-3142
St. Marys0-06-3125
Pacific0-07-4176
Santa Clara0-05-4168
San Diego0-06-5154
San Fran.0-06-5202
Loyola-Mary.0-03-6278
 
Other games
VALP 54 Final
MIST 65
BUCK 56 Final
BUT 68
WICH 73 Final
PITT 55
NMST 44 Final
STL 64
STMA 52 Final
MEMP 54
DAV 58 Final
MU 59
ORE 68 Final
OKST 55
NCAT 48 Final
LOU 79
SDST 56 Final
MICH 71
BEL 64 Final
ARIZ 81
CAL 64 Final
UNLV 61
MIZZ 72 Final
CSU 84
AKR 42 Final
VCU 88
HARV 68 Final
NMEX 62
MTST 34 Final
SYR 81