(10) Nevada 91

(25-8, 13-5 WAC)

(2) Gonzaga 72

(28-3, 14-0 WCC)

    3:20 PM ET, March 20, 2004

    KeyArena, Seattle, Washington

    1 2 T
    #10NEV 47 4491
    #2GONZ 32 4072

    Wolf Pack dominate from the start

    SEATTLE (AP) -- Now Gonzaga knows what it's like to get knocked out by a plucky underdog.

    "It feels as if someone took your life away almost. This is all we've got, this is all I've got -- basketball. We can't play anymore," forward Adam Morrison said.

    Kevinn Pinkney

    AP Photo

    All five Nevada starters reached double figures, led by Kevin Pinkney's game-high 20 points.

    Once the darlings of the NCAA Tournament, the second-seeded Bulldogs were blown out by Nevada 91-72 Saturday in the second round.

    Kevinn Pinkney scored 20 points, Todd Okeson had 19 and Kirk Snyder had 18 for the Wolf Pack, who led by as many as 20 in the first half and never let the Bulldogs make a run.

    "We've been doubted since the beginning of this tournament," Snyder said. "After beating Michigan State, we felt good. We felt we could make plays."

    The loss snapped a school-record 21-game winning streak for Gonzaga (28-3), which had lost only to No. 1 seeds Stanford and St. Joseph's this season.

    Players on Gonzaga's bench stood in amazement in the final minute and Kyle Bankhead sobbed at the buzzer, while Wolf Pack fans chanted "Sweet 16! Sweet 16!"

    Nevada (25-8), in the tournament for the first time in 19 years, was one of just three double-digit seeds to reach the second round. The Western Athletic Conference tournament champions upset Michigan State on Thursday night.

    The Wolf Pack advance to the St. Louis Regional to play the winner of Sunday's game between Boston College and Georgia Tech. It was almost enough to bring tears from Pinkney.

    "I thought I was going to cry after the last game," he said. "I really feel like I'm going to cry after this one."

    Dick Vitale's Tourney Take
    Oh, baby, can the Nevada Wolfpack play! Many thought it was a fluke when they won at Kansas early in the year, but after taking out Michigan Sate and then dominating Gonzaga the Wolf Pack has shown everyone just how good they are. Gonzaga had some tough luck with Ronny Turiaf getting his fourth foul early in the second half, but the bottom line is the Bulldogs did not have an answer anywhere on the floor against Trent Johnson's team. Todd Okeson scored 19 points and did a great job at the controls, while Kirk Snyder made one big play after another. Johnson, a former assistant to Mike Montgomery at Stanford, now becomes one of the hot names in coaching after putting Nevada into the Sweet 16 alongside some of the elite teams in the nation.

    More on Saturday's Games
    Snyder and Okeson were far less humble. They postured on court for the fans after the game, pulling at the "Nevada" logo on their jerseys. Okeson bounced the game ball high in the air.

    It was the eighth straight season that at least one No. 10 seed has advanced to the round of 16.

    Since 1999, 10th-seeded teams are 8-3 against No. 2 seeds -- two of those upsets were by Gonzaga.

    "You know, these guys I've got playing for me are pretty good players," Nevada coach Trent Johnson said.

    The Bulldogs, who were down 47-32 at halftime, narrowed it to 49-40 on Cory Violette's layup.

    Gonzaga was unable to get closer until Sean Mallon's layup pulled the Bulldogs to 58-50. Despite foul trouble, Ronny Turiaf returned to help Gonzaga, but Pinkney's dunk extended Nevada's lead to 67-54.

    Violette had 16 points and 11 rebounds for the Zags, who could not get closer than eight points.

    Gonzaga, which made a surprising run to the round of eight in 1999, was in the tournament for the seventh time with its highest seed ever.

    The Bulldogs took top-seeded Arizona to double overtime in the second round last year before losing as the ninth seed. As a sixth seed in 2002, Gonzaga lost to No. 11 Wyoming in the opening round.

    With aggressive inside play, Nevada went on a 12-4 run to take a surprising 19-11 early lead. They opened the game with 60 percent shooting from the floor.

    Okeson pounded his chest after he hit a a 3-pointer to extend Nevada's lead to 24-13, and the Wolf Pack's contingent of fans cheered wildly. He didn't even set up when his next 3 put Nevada ahead 27-13.

    "We were trying to set the tempo early in the game, we knew we had to stay ahead of these guys," Pinkney said.

    Gonzaga got into trouble when Turiaf got his third foul with 11:07 to go in the first half. Blake Steep didn't even score until he made the second of two free throws with 10:17 to go.

    Stepp did not score from the floor for Gonzaga until he hit a 3-pointer and got fouled with 4:40 left, but it didn't do much good as the Bulldogs trailed 42-26.

    Stepp, who was cold from the floor in the Zags' opening-round win against Valparaiso, also had an off game Saturday, shooting just 3-for-18 from the floor. He finished with 13 points and five assists.

    "I felt good. They just didn't go down," Stepp said. "If I ever make it to the NBA, I hope I don't have to play in KeyArena."

    The Wolf Pack got a brief scare late in the half when Jermaine Washington, chasing after a ball, tumbled over the courtside scorers table and onto the floor behind the Nevada bench. Washington was not hurt, and the effort for the ball exemplified the Wolf Pack's aggressive style of play.

    Stepp missed a 3-point attempt as time ran out in the half and the Gonzaga fans roundly booed the officials as they left the floor.

    Turiaf returned to the floor for Gonzaga in the second half, but quickly collected his fourth foul and went to the bench until the final 10 minutes. He also finished with 13 points.

    "I wouldn't say it's the best defense we've seen all season," Stepp said. "But they stuck with us."

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press



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