- Associated Press - Sunday, March 24, 2013

SALT LAKE CITY —  Gonzaga was No. 1, yet never really played like it in the NCAA tournament.

Not in Thursday’s second-round game, when the Zags struggled against 16th-seeded Southern of the Southwestern Athletic Conference.

And not Saturday against No, 9 seed Wichita State, which nearly buried the Bulldogs in the first half.

Now Gonzaga’s gone, its resume of 15 straight NCAA appearances and 32 wins meaning little after being knocked out of the West Regional 76-70 by a barrage of Wichita State 3-pointers.

“I don’t even know what’s going through my head right now,” Elias Harris said. “It’s just over now and it’s sad. It hurts, but that’s life I guess.”

The suddenness of how it came crashing down caught teammate Michael Hart.

“We’ll look back and savor this year and cherish it,” he said. “But it’s pretty rough right now because we definitely came up short of where we were looking for.”

Cleanthony Early and Ron Baker scored 16 points apiece and the Shockers hit five straight 3-pointers late for the win.

Gonzaga became the first top seed to be eliminated this year, giving all the Zags doubters an I-told-you-so moment.

Coach Mark Few said the Zags are what they are.

“We’re not overly athletic,” he said. “We’re based on just playing together and we have a high level of skill, good size and play hard and play pretty efficient.

“Wichita State is a hot team right now.”

The Shockers (28-8), whose motto is “play angry,” advanced to the Round of 16 for the first time since 2006. They face the winner of Sunday’s game between La Salle and Ole Miss.

Gonzaga loses Harris and Hart. But Kelly Olynyk (26 points) is only a junior and Kevin Pangos (19 points) a sophomore as is top perimeter defender Gary Bell Jr., who played only 21 minutes because of a foot injury.

Few preferred to look at the bright spots.

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