ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) -- Gonzaga complained that it deserved to
be seeded higher than sixth. Wyoming didn't give the Zags a chance
to prove their point.
Gonzaga, which has been the darling of the NCAA Tournament with an Elite Eight and two Sweet 16 appearances over the last three years, ran into a very physical and aggressive Wyoming team. Josh Davis' defensive heroics and his shot-blocking ability surely created havoc for Gonzaga.
Dan Dickau, the super-sensational point guard for the Zags, had a tough day getting open looks. He shot only seven for 24 from the field, and overall the Zags hit only 27 percent. It was a bad evening for Gonzaga shooting the rock, baby. And when you are not shooting the rock against a quality team like Wyoming, you pack your bags and go home.
People have to understand this Wyoming team won the Mountain West Conference regular-season title. The Cowboys have a super player in Marcus Bailey, who came up with big shots to end Gonzaga's dream of advancing in the tournament once again.
Wyoming, seeded 11th, wasn't given much of a chance of beating
Gonzaga, a team that has made deep runs into the tournament with
low seedings a habit in recent years. Only Duke, Michigan State and
Gonzaga advanced to the round of 16 the last three years.
Dickau, Gonzaga's All-American point guard, struggled through
one of his worst shooting nights of the season. He finished with 26
points, but went just 7-for-24 from the field, including 4-for-14
from 3-point range.
"That's more shots than I usually take, but I wanted to be
aggressive," Dickau said.
Almost as aggressive as the Cowboys, who afterward downplayed
the idea they had pulled off an upset.
"I don't think we're a Cinderella," Wyoming coach Steve
McClain said. "I think we're a team with a purpose."
Senior guard Marcus Bailey agreed.
"I don't think it was a fluke," he said. "We played a tough
schedule this year. We played all the way to the end and we were
able to pull it out."
Gonzaga, ranked No. 6 in the nation, had complained that the
selection committee should have seeded them higher. The Cowboys,
meanwhile, were merely happy to be in the tournament.
The Cowboys, assuming the role of underdog that Gonzaga wore so
well in past tournaments, beat up the Zags physically, repelled
every Gonzaga run and simply refused to go away. Instead, it's
sixth-seeded Gonzaga that makes a quick exit.
"They really physically took it to us," Gonzaga coach Mark Few
As a team Gonzaga hit just 19 of 71 shots -- a 26.8 percentage
that was 20 points below their season average.
Wyoming wore down Dickau by tag-teaming him on defense with
several players. Even Uche Nsonwu-Amadi, the Cowboys' 6-foot-10,
260-pound center from Nigeria would occasionally pop outside to
deny Dickau an open look.
"At half, coach told me to get up in him more and make him work
harder," said Cowboy Donta Richardson. "I wanted to make every
shot he took difficult, to be there every time he had the ball."
Dickau praised the Wyoming defense, but added he went out with
"This is the NCAA Tournament, it's a time to be aggressive and
I came out aggressive," he said. "I didn't want to come off of
that floor knowing I didn't give it all I had because it was my
Nsonwu-Amadi added 14 points, and Bailey scored 13. It was
Nsonwu-Amadi's six straight points early in the second half that
kept Wyoming close.
Wyoming (22-8) scored seven straight to erase a 60-56 deficit.
That put the Cowboys up 63-60 with 2:17 left and they then played
with the kind of poise uncommon in a team making its first trip to
the tournament in 14 years.
Dickau, who scored 17 points in the second half, hit two free
throws with 1:15 left to cut the deficit to a point, but Davis
followed with his two-handed slam off a missed shot by
Nsonwu-Amadi. After another Gonzaga miss, Bailey hit two free
throws with 56 seconds left and added a layup 33 seconds later.
Dickau never got going on offense, with the tone for his
miserable night set early. He hit just two of 10 shots in the first
half, had two attempts blocked, and went 1-for-4 at the foul line.
It didn't get any better in the second half, although his
7-for-8 effort on free throws kept Gonzaga in the game late.
Wyoming took a 47-45 lead with 11:34 left off a great defensive
play. Gonzaga (29-4) had a 2-on-1 break, and Dickau threw a
behind-the-back pass to Zach Gourde. Gourde went up for a layup,
but the shot was rejected by Davis, who then passed to Bailey at
the other end for a layup.
"They made very few mistakes," Gourde said. "We got rattled
and didn't do some of the things we've been doing all season."
Moments later, Wyoming had a 49-45 lead on a steal and layup by
Then it was Gonzaga's turn to rally. Cory Violette kicked off a
10-0 run with a free throw and back-to-back layups off a pair of
offensive rebounds. Blake Stepp added two free throws and Dickau
ended the run with an NBA-length 3-pointer.
That put the Zags up 55-49 with 6:18 left, but Wyoming still had
plenty of fight. Donta Richardson hit a 3-pointer and Nsonwu-Amadi
hit a bank shot to get the Cowboys within 56-54.