La Salle upsets Kansas State
by Steve Wieberg, Special to USA TODAY Sports
KANSAS CITY — This isn’t just madness. It’s incomprehension.
La Salle delivered the latest in a series of upsets by double-digit seeds in the West Region — and the second in Kansas City in a matter of hours — on Friday. Jerrell Wright scored 21 points, including three go-ahead free throws in the final seconds, and Ramon Galloway scored 19 as the 13th-seeded Explorers took down No. 4 Kansas State 63-61.
They’ll meet another upstart, 12th-seeded Mississippi, on Sunday. The Rebels upended No. 5-seed Wisconsin 57-46.
It was in the same corner of the bracket, the West, that 14th-seeded Harvard knocked out New Mexico late Thursday night.
Coming off a victory against Boise State in the NCAA’s First Four in Dayton two nights earlier, La Salle (23-9) won back-to-back games in the same NCAA tournament for the first time since 1955. That run took the Explorers all the way to the championship game, where they fell to San Francisco.
Friday, they took out a bigger, physical, tough-minded team that tied Kansas for the Big 12 Conference’s regular-season championship. And K-State (27-8) was playing just two hours from home in Manhattan, Kan.
The Wildcats had a purple-hued crowd in Kansas City’s Sprint Center roaring, roaring back from an 18-point halftime deficit to move ahead with a little more than seven minutes left. Rodney McGruder’s follow made it 57-56, 6-11 senior Jordan Henriquez added a free throw a minute later, and a dogfight was on.
Wright, who scored La Salle’s final nine points, came back with two free throws to tie it 60-60. Henriquez made one of two at the other end for Kansas State, but it was the Wildcats’ last gasp.
Wright returned to the line twice more, hitting two with 30 seconds left to give the Explorers a 62-61 lead, then one with 9.6 seconds remaining.
K-State point guard Angel Rodriguez dribbled to the baseline and, under heavy defensive pressure, put up a shot that never reached the rim.