Bulldogs Exit NCAA Tournament
March 14, 2002
By PETE HERRERA
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.
Josh Davis scored 11 points and grabbed 14 rebounds, including one that he slammed in with 1:07 left to punctuate Wyoming's 73-66 upset over Dan Dickau and the Zags in the West Regional on Thursday.
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 said.
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 no regrets.
"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 last game."
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 Paris Corner.
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.
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