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Indiana dumps Gonzaga for a date with UCLA

March 16, 2007|Chris Dufresne | Times Staff Writer

SACRAMENTO — Once a huggable NCAA tournament fixture, Gonzaga is one and gone.

Indiana ended Gonzaga's postseason presence Thursday night with a 70-57 win over the Bulldogs in a first-round West Regional game at Arco Arena.

No. 7 Indiana advanced to play No. 2 UCLA on Saturday, in a matchup of programs that have combined to win 16 national titles.

Senior guard Roderick Wilmont led Indiana with 22 points, making six of his 11 three-point attempts.

Senior forward D.J. White had 16 points, 10 rebounds and four assists against a Gonzaga defense depleted by the absence of center Josh Heytvelt.

Derek Raivio was Gonzaga's top scorer with 12 points.

"I thought we played smart," Indiana Coach Kelvin Sampson said. "I thought we played with a high basketball IQ tonight."

This is only the third time in 10 tournament appearances that Gonzaga has failed to advance past the first round.

Gonzaga won the West Coast Conference title again, but the Bulldogs' season ends at 23-11. Fans will wonder what might have been had center Heytvelt not been suspended for a drug-related arrest.

Gonzaga could have used Heytvelt to combat White, whose thundering dunk with 3:31 left provided the exclamation point to Indiana's double-digit win.

Last year, Gonzaga blew a double-digit lead to UCLA in the final minutes of the West Regional semifinal game.

Coach Mark Few said he was happy his team made it this far.

"I'm as proud of these guys as any group I've ever had," he said.

Indiana improved to 21-10 and now faces UCLA.

"I think they have a better team this year, and last year they were in the championship game," Sampson said of the Bruins.

The last time the schools met in the tournament, at the 1992 West Regional finals in Albuquerque, No. 2 Indiana routed No. 1 UCLA, 106-79.

chris.dufresne@latimes.com

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