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NCAA: Gonzaga beats Southern

Gonzaga’s Kelly Olynyk, bottom, who scores a team-high 21 points, gets tangled up with Southern’s Javan Mitchell.

Associated Press

Gonzaga’s Kelly Olynyk, bottom, who scores a team-high 21 points, gets tangled up with Southern’s Javan Mitchell.

SALT LAKE CITY — Still don't believe Gonzaga deserved that No. 1 seed? There might be a few more doubters now.

Entering the tournament top-seeded and top-ranked for the first time, the Bulldogs nearly made another kind of history Thursday, coming only a few minutes and a rimmed-out shot or two from becoming the first No. 1 to lose to a No. 16.

Gonzaga prevailed 64-58 over Southern in a game that wasn't in hand until the final buzzer.

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

The Jaguars — the Southwestern Athletic Conference champs from Baton Rouge, La., and with an enrollment of about 6,900 — didn't stop scrapping.

The program was nearly wiped out three years ago because of an academic violations. It still has players who were around for the 20-plus-loss seasons that ensued.

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

The Jaguars fell behind 7-0 over the first 3½ minutes but reeled off eight straight after that. For the rest of the afternoon, it looked nothing like a typical 1-16 matchup.

"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."

Kelly Olynyk led the Bulldogs (32-2) with 21 points. But 3-pointers by Gary Bell and Kevin Pagnos gave Gonzaga its small cushion after Southern (23-10) tied it at 56 with 3:45 left.

After Pagnos' made it a four-point game, Yondarius Johnson and Malcom Miller missed on open looks for Southern.

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

Harvard pulls shocker

SALT LAKE CITY — Harvard won its first-ever tournament game, upsetting No. 3 seed New Mexico 68-62. Wesley Saunders scored 18 and Laurent Rivard 17 as the No. 14 seed Crimson (20-19) took out the Lobos (29-6), the Mountain West champs who entered the tournament No. 2 in the RPI.

Rivard's 3-pointer put the Ivy League champs up for good at 55-53. After a turnover, Saunders made it 57-53 with a jumper. And after a Lobo offensive foul, Patrick Steeves' hook shot made it 59-53 with 4:43 left.

Arizona 81, Belmont 64: Mark Lyons scored 23 for the No. 6-seeded Wildcats. Arizona (26-7) outrebounded the Bruins (26-7) 44-18, outscored them 36-18 in the paint and blocked five shots.

"The one thing about our team that's deceptive is we're bigger and more physical than we get credit for," Arizona coach Sean Miller said.

The Wildcats led by as many as 21 points. Belmont's last gasp came with a 10-0 run capped by 3-pointers by Ian Clark and J.J Mann sandwiched around a stolen inbounds pass. But Kevin Parrom's driving layup, then Solomon Hill's 3-pointer with 4:29 left sealed it.

"I was more impressed with the team I saw than I was scouting them," Belmont coach Rick Byrd said of Arizona. "If they play that way, they can beat a lot of people."

Wichita St. 73, Pitt 55: Malcolm Armstead scored 22 and Cleanthony Early 21 for the No. 9-seeded Shockers. Up six, Wichita State (27-8) went on a 6-0 run fueled by two steals and a dunk by Tekele Cotton for a 47-35 lead with 10:13 left.

"Our guys took the fight to them by getting a body on them, being quicker to the ball," Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall said. "The steals we had on them were big, big baskets and gave us a lead and a comfortable lead as the game went on."

Cotton also shut down Tray Woodall, the leading scorer for No. 8-seeded Pittsburgh at 11.8 per game. He scored just two, shot 1-of-12 from the field, including 0-of-5 on 3-pointers, and committed five turnovers.

"It's a bitter taste in my mouth to end my career with one of the worst games I've ever played," Woodall said. "I'm sorry. I let my team down."

The Panthers (24-9) failed to make the tournament last season. And as a No. 1 seed in 2011, they lost to Butler in their second game.

The closest 1-16 games

Among the 114 (out of 114) No. 16 seeds to lose to No. 1s, six have done so by six or fewer points:

Team Opp. Yr. Pts.

Princeton G'town '89 1

E. Tenn. St. Oklahoma '89 1

W. Carolina Purdue '96 2

Murray St. * Mich. St. '90 4

Southern Gonzaga '13 6

McNeese St. Illinois'89 6

* Overtime

NCAA: Gonzaga beats Southern 03/21/13 [Last modified: Friday, March 22, 2013 1:38am]
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