- Robbi Pickeral, College Basketball
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SALT LAKE CITY -- C’mon. You know you want to do it. Go ahead. Insert your “shock” pun here.
A quick look at the upset:
Turning point(s): Wichita State, known for its hard-nosed “Play Angry” defense, showed it off in the first half, holding the Zags below 33 percent shooting while building as much as a 10-point lead on a Jake White 3-pointer with 5:01 before the break. Gonzaga inched back to within five points by halftime thanks to Elias Harris and Kelly Olynyk. Then, with 13:38 left, Zags guards Kevin Pangos and Mike Hart buried back-to-back 3s to give their team back the lead, 43-41 -- and also jump-started a 12-0 run that gave the Zags as much as an eight-point advantage.
It didn't last.
The Shockers kept battling and regained the lead with 3:29 left when Carl Hall followed teammate Ron Baker’s triple with a bucket to make it 62-61. The teams traded free throws, then Baker hit another 3 with 3:09 left to give his team a 67-63 cushion. Olynyk scored, but WSU’s Fred Van Vleet hit an improbable-looking, high-arcing trey to extend the lead to five. And on a night when it seemed like the Shockers couldn't miss, it was enough.
Key player(s): Baker and Cleanthony Early scored 16 points apiece for Wichita State. Olynyk, the 7-foot player of the year candidate, finished with 26 points for Gonzaga (32-3).
Key stat: The Shockers, who hit just two of their 20 3-point attempts in a victory over Pitt on Thursday, made 53.8 percent (14-for-26) on Saturday.
Up next: Wichita State (28-8) advances to play either No. 12 Ole Miss or No. 13 LaSalle in a West Region semifinal Thursday in Los Angeles.