Sunday, March 21, 2004

No. 2 Gonzaga gets what comes around

St. Louis Regional: Once the spoiler, Bulldogs suffer second-round upset

The Associated Press

SEATTLE - 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.

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.

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 Thursday night.

The Wolf Pack advance to play today's winner of the 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."

But Pinkney joined Snyder and Okeson in less than humble reactions. They postured on the court for the fans after the game, pulling at the "Nevada" logo on their jerseys.

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.

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.

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.

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

NEVADA (25-8)-Pinkney 9-13 2-4 20, Fazekas 4-12 7-9 16, Snyder 5-11 4-4 18, Okeson 7-14 2-2 19, Hill-Thomas 3-4 4-4 10, Kemp 1-6 0-0 2, Washington 1-2 1-2 3, Paul 0-2 3-4 3. Totals 30-64 23-29 91.

GONZAGA (28-3)-Turiaf 6-10 1-3 13, Bankhead 1-2 0-0 2, Violette 8-21 0-2 16, Stepp 3-18 6-7 13, Knight 0-1 0-0 0, Morrison 5-9 4-4 14, Skinner 2-5 0-0 5, Ravio 0-1 0-0 0, Mallon 3-7 2-2 9, Fox 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 28-75 13-18 72.

Halftime score-Nevada 47, Gonzaga 32. 3-Point Goals-Nevada 8-17 (Snyder 4-7, Okeson 3-6, Fazekas 1-2, Kemp 0-1, Pinkney 0-1), Gonzaga 3-22 (Mallon 1-2, Skinner 1-3, Stepp 1-12, Ravio 0-1, Violette 0-1, Morrison 0-3). Fouled out-None. Rebounds-Nevada 46 (Fazekas 10), Gonzaga 39 (Violette 11). Assists-Nevada 18 (Okeson 7), Gonzaga 9 (Stepp 5). Total fouls-Nevada 18, Gonzaga 23. A-15,827

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