Gonzaga Stands Taller, Ousts Stanford
Special to The Washington Post
Sunday, March 14, 1999; Page D1
SEATTLE, March 13 If West Coast basketball is to be represented well in the 1999 NCAA tournament, it won't be Pacific-10 Conference teams doing it.
West Coast Conference champion Gonzaga eliminated the tournament's last remaining Pac-10 team today, upsetting second-seeded Stanford, 82-74, with three-point shots and gritty play. The Bulldogs led nearly the entire game, fighting their bigger opponent inside and holding steady when Stanford tied the game with just over 11 minutes left.
They got key three-pointers from point guard Matt Santangelo and 5-foot-8 guard Quentin Hall, both classic underdogs. Hall's shot made it 66-57 with 3 minutes 20 seconds left, shutting the door on Stanford in the West Region second-round game.
Just to be sure, the Bulldogs made 13 of 16 free throws in the final two minutes "the longest two minutes of my basketball life," said Coach Dan Monson and with that, the Pac-10 champions were gone. Upsets in this NCAA tournament are nothing new 12 lower-seeded teams won in the first round but Stanford became the highest seed to topple.
"This wasn't a fluke situation for this team," Monson said. "We've been a good team for a while."
The 10th-seeded Bulldogs advanced to the round of 16 Friday in Phoenix, where they will play sixth-seeded Florida. The Gators were taken to overtime by 14th-seeded Weber State here tonight, but they survived 32 points from Harold Arceneaux to win, 82-74, ushering out another team from the West.
But unlike teams from the Pac-10, at least the Big Sky's Weber State, from Ogden, Utah, made a splash in the tournament. The Wildcats stunned North Carolina go figure in the first round behind 36 points from Arceneaux.
Weber State was in position to advance further today when guard Noel Jackson was fouled while attempting a three-point shot with 8.2 seconds left in regulation. Jackson made the first and third of his three free throws to tie the game at 68.
Florida then scored the first four points of overtime, and prevented Arceneaux from becoming a factor. He took three shots in the extra period, making one.
So Gonzaga left KeyArena carrying the flag for western basketball, and it will be joined by the Western Athletic Conference's Utah, a No. 2 seed poised to make a deep run into the tournament. But so was Stanford.
Perhaps the man most responsible for felling Stanford was Santangelo, a player it once coveted. The Cardinal offered him a scholarship when he was a junior in high school in Portland, Ore., wanting a quick answer. Santangelo held off the impatient Cardinal, saying he needed time to look at other schools.
"It was never a questionable decision," Santangelo said. "I knew before this game that it was a good decision."
Yesterday, he outplayed heralded point guard Arthur Lee. Santangelo scored 22 points making all three of his three-point attempts and had six rebounds and six assists. Lee scored 24 points but shot only 6 of 18 from the field.
"Lee's a highly touted point guard and has had a lot of success," Santangelo said. "He's so talented. I looked at it as an opportunity."
There was some thought that Gonzaga was in the second round mostly because it got a boost when first-round opponent Minnesota went without four players, suspended for alleged academic improprieties. The Bulldogs felt they would have won anyway, and backed that up with today's performance.
Monson, whose team plays across state in Spokane, about 300 miles away, correctly predicted on Friday that the crowd would fuel his team's emotion. There was never any doubt whose side the 15,187 at KeyArena were on, booing Stanford when it came out for pregame warmups.
The Zags gave the fans reason to cheer when 6-8 forward Casey Calvary came out and hit two early three-pointers for a 6-1 lead. When Calvary went inside for an alley-oop dunk and an 8-3 lead, the noise level rose to a roar usually reserved for the hometown Washington Huskies or, in this building where the Seattle SuperSonics play, a made free throw by Vin Baker.
Sharp-shooting Gonzaga, which hits nearly 40 percent of its three-points shots, kept at it in the first 10 minutes, hitting five three-pointers in that stretch and building a 23-10 lead.
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