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NCAA Tournament: Gonzaga edges Southern to avoid historic upset

March 21, 2013|By Chris Dufresne
  • Gonzaga forward Kelly Olynyk tries to drive against Southern center Brandon Moore in the first half Thursday.
Gonzaga forward Kelly Olynyk tries to drive against Southern center Brandon… (Harry How / Getty Images )

SALT LAKE CITY -- Was this the day a No. 16-seeded team finally defeated a No. 1 in the NCAA tournament?

No, but the final word on it was "whew."

Top-ranked Gonzaga had to dig deep and hold on tight until the end to defeat Southern University, 64-58, at EnergySolutions Arena.

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Gonzaga, the No. 1 team in the nation and the top-seeded team in the West Regional, earned a Saturday match against Wichita State. The winner of that game advances to next week's regional finals at Staples Center.

A three-pointer by Greg Bell Jr. with 3:18 left broke a 56-all tie to help lift Gonzaga to the win. Southern cut the lead to one on two Derick Beltran free throws but Kevin Pangos responded with a three-pointer with 1:53 left give the Bulldogs a four-point lead.

The Jaguars, who were scoreless in the last two minutes when going 0 for 4 from the field, missed two good looks from three-point range in the final 1:15.

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Everyone knew the number: Since the tournament expanded to 64 teams, No. 16-seeded teams were were 0-112 going into Thursday's play.

With less than 14 minutes left, though, Southern trailed Gonzaga by only a point.

Gonzaga forward Kelly Olynyk then took over for a stretch and the Bulldogs eventually pushed the lead to 11, but Southern refused to go out quietly.

Olynyk led Gonzaga (32-2) with 21 points while Beltran had 21 to lead Southern (23-10).


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