No. 13 La Salle, from the unheralded and underrated Atlantic-10 Conference, defeated Boise State in a play-in game on Wednesday in Dayton, Ohio and essentially had to go on the road to Kansas City, Missouri to upset No. 4 Kansas State.
The Atlantic-10 Conference went undefeated in the opening rounds of the NCAA tournament.
The Explorers raced out to a 44-26 at halftime but fatigue seemed to catch up with them in the second half, as Kansas State, energized by what was essentially a home crowd, stormed back to take the lead when Rodney McGruder made a layup to put Kansas State up 57-56 at around the seven-minute mark in the second half.
Jerrell Wright, La Salle’s only big man, had 21 points and eight rebounds and made three of four huge free throws in the final seconds of the game to keep La Salle ahead.
After Wright missed his last free throw, though, La Salle led only by two points, 63-61, but Kansas State’s Angel Rodriguez threw up a wild shot that failed to tie the game as the horn sounded.
La Salle will play No. 12 Ole Miss, which beat No. 5 Wisconsin, for a trip to the Sweet 16, which means that either a No. 12 or 13 seed will be in the Sweet 16 from the West. The winner of that game will most likely face top-seed Gonzaga in Los Angeles next week.
Gonzaga, a team that almost became the first No. 1 seed in history to lose on Thursday, will face No. 9 Wichita State tomorrow.