The ninth-seeded Wichita State Shockers toppled the West region's top-seeded Gonzaga Bulldogs on Saturday, 76-70, in a classic Round 3 NCAA tournament battle.
Gonzaga nearly became the first No. 1 seed to lose its opening game in tournament history earlier in the week, and as it turns out, it only took one more contest for Mark Few's squad to bow out.
Thanks to outstanding proficiency on offense—particularly from three-point range—the Shockers were able to withstand a second-half rally by the Bulldogs after they trailed by five at the break.
Freshman guard Ron Baker entered the game draining under 31 percent of his shots from beyond the arc. But he simply played out of his mind, nailing 4-of-6 en route to 16 points, six rebounds and four assists.
Cleanthony Early matched Baker's team-high total with 16 points of his own, pulled down seven boards, blocked two shots and also stroked home four shots from downtown.
The Shockers were 50 percent from the field and hit on 14-of-26 attempts from beyond the arc. That helped them overcome a whopping 20 offensive rebounds by Gonzaga, which was surprising, considering Gregg Marshall's team is typically solid on the boards.
Kelly Olynyk predictably led the way for the Bulldogs. He notched a game-high 26 points, and six of his nine rebounds were on the offensive glass.
Wichita State made its last seven three-point attempts to combat clutch shooting by the Zags' Kevin Pangos, who poured in 19 points. Fred Van Vleet made only 13 three-pointers prior to this game, but his trey with just over a minute left put the Shockers on top, 70-65.
Saturday marked the first loss for Gonzaga in nine weeks, as its 15-game winning streak was snapped.
After getting to the free-throw line 41 times against Pittsburgh in the second round, the Shockers were simply lethal from the perimeter.
That makes them a legitimate threat to get to the Elite Eight, as they will take on the winner of Ole Miss and La Salle.
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