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Zags pay for turnovers in 84-61 loss

About the only question in the closing minutes was whether Gonzaga would suffer its worst NCAA tournament loss. They didn't, but it hardly eased their pain as the Bulldogs were crushed by Arizona 84-61 Sunday at Viejas Arena.

GU's 87-63 loss to Maryland in 1995 — the school's first NCAA trip — remains its most lopsided. This one wasn't close as Gonzaga couldn't handle with Arizona's pressure defense and coughed up 21 turnovers, leading to 31 Wildcats' points.

Przemek Karnowski had 14 points and 10 rebounds. Kevin Pangos played through a sprained ankle to make four 3s and finish with 12 points. But the Bulldogs made just 41 percent of their shots and scored only 27 points in the second half.

Here's my game story, John Blanchette's column and Dan Pelle's photos.

 

Thursday morning Pac-12 links

From Pullman — It's tournament time in Spokane and we've got all hands on deck. While the Cougars were left out of the Big Dance, there's still some Cougar flavor to this March Madness. We've got a story on former WSU player Xavier Thames who returns to these parts as one of college basketball's best players. Our tournament notes  have an item or two that will be of interest to WSU fans. 

The WSU baseball team followed its series win over Arizona with a two-game sweep of No. 17 San Diego … Things didn't go so well for the women's basketball team in the first round of the WNIT.

Oregon State's season ended with an embarrassing loss at home to Radford in the first round of the CBI … At least Cal got past Utah Valley.

A Grand Prize

From Pullman — Handsome, sturdy, good in all weather. That polo hanging tantalizingly above this post is the prize in our Spokesman-Review NCAA Tournament Challenge. It, as well as a $25 gift card to the restaurant of your choice, can be yours if you fill out the best bracket.

To enter, simply follow this link and enter the password “SportsLink”. Good luck!

Divided loyalties

Florence Young grew up in Tucson, home of the University of Arizona. “My brother is a UA grad and a 25-year season ticket holder for Arizona basketball.”

But during her many years in Spokane, Florence has come to love Gonzaga University basketball.

So…

“If Arizona and Gonzaga get past their first games, they meet in the round of 32. Of all the teams in all the towns, why did those two…!”

Zags avoid upset, edge Southern 64-58

Not sure how it came across on television, but Gonzaga-Southern was interesting from the start and turned into a thriller when the gutsy Jaguars mounted their umpteenth comeback late in the second half.

Gonzaga hung on, riding key baskets by Kevin Pangos and Gary Bell Jr., for a 64-58 win over the Jaguars.

We'll give you a few links now, and probably a couple more later tonight. Here's my game story, Christian Caple's sidebar on the Jaguars and Dan Pelle's and Colin Mulvany's photo gallery.

UPDATE: And here's our Gonzaga notebook and John Blanchette's column.

Video: A look at Gonzaga’s practice

GONZAGA

FROM SALT LAKE CITY — They call it “practice,” technically, but as you can see from the video posted below, these open-to-the-public, day-before-the-tourney practice sessions aren't all that strenuous. Here's a look.

Zags Rough Road As A No. 1 Seed

Thinking back, it was maybe 10 minutes into the impossibly fun tale of Gonzaga basketball that the Zags evolved from humble, lovable underdogs into something less appealing in the eyes of a not insignificant segment of the studio audience. Underachievers. There. We said it. Underachievers. Is it true? Oh, hell no. But if AM radio has taught us anything, it’s that everybody has to believe something – and once they do, they won’t let go. And with the 75th NCAA basketball tournament under way, it’s more of a talking point than ever what with the Bulldogs seeded No. 1 and in a perfect position to live up to this trumped-up expectation that they won’t live up to expectations. It’s a virtual mathematical inevitability/John Blanchette, SR. More here.

Question: Will you be embarrassed if Gonzaga stumbles anywhere short of the Elite Eight?

Five Pac-12 teams make tourney

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — Back on the Palouse, albeit for a very short time before hitting the road again. We do have a recap of yesterday's NCAA tournament selections, which went much better for the Pac-12 this year than last. Read  on.

It’s back: SportsLink Reader Challenge

Last year's NCAA bracket pool was pretty popular, so we've brought it back this season. Anyone who wants to participate can do so by clicking this link: 

http://tournament.fantasysports.yahoo.com/t1/register/joinprivategroup_assign_team?GID=102194&P=cougs

The group ID is 102194. The group password is cougs. Let me know if you have any problems signing up. Anyone who participated last season has already received an invite via email.

Kentucky Vs. Kansas For Title

Kentucky Anthony Davis walks off the court after an NCAA Final Four semifinal college basketball tournament game against Louisville Saturday in New Orleans. Davis scored 18 points as Kentucky won 69-61 and now will face Kansas tonight for the national title. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

Question: Why are/aren't you interested in tonight's game?

Graves entertains the crowd again as Zags prepare to dance with second-seeded Kentucky on Sunday

KINGSTON, R.I. - Forget dunking a basketball.

Gonzaga women's basketball coach Kelly Graves' excitement prior to the final practice before his 11th-seeded Bulldogs face No. 2-seeded Kentucky tomorrow was all about Dunkin Donuts. Graves made his first trip to the famed joint last night on a walk.

The press conference remark, which will likely make its way into all the media coverage today, showcased how loose the Zags are during their cross-country trip for their Sweet 16 dance with the Wildcats. One thing about Graves and the Zags - they know how to let the good times roll, as highlighted in this morning's feature on sophomore guard Haiden Palmer.

More coverage later from myself and a picture story from S-R photographer Colin Mulvany.

AM: Lady Zags Are Still Dancing

Gonzaga's Shannon Reader (31) celebrates a teammate's score against Miami in the second half of an NCAA tournament second-round women's college basketball game in Spokane Monday. Gonzaga defeated Miami 65-54. See Jess Brown's story below. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

Gonzaga women advance to the Sweet Sixteen with win over Miami

How sweet it was.

The 11th-seeded Gonzaga women's basketball team earned a third straight trip to the Sweet Sixteen with a victory over No.3 Miami on Monday night in the final game at the McCarthey Athletic Center this season.  

Here's our game story and a notebook from Greg Lee.

Gonzaga will face No. 2 Kentucky on Sunday in Kingston, R.I. (game time TBA). The Zags reached the Elite Eight last season.

How far do you think the Zags can go?

Turning an eye toward spring

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — It's technically still basketball season, but with spring football practices starting this week, we turn out focus toward Mike Leach's squad for a moment. Read on for that and some Pac-12 links.

Zags dismantle West Virginia, 77-54

Gonzaga made quick work of West Virginia, building a 17-point lead in the first 12 minutes and cruising to a 77-54 victory over the Mountaineers in the NCAA tournament on Thursday.

Here's some of our report from Pittsburgh. Here's my game story and our notebook. Here's John Blanchette's column and Chris Anderson's photos.

Here's a game story and column in the Charleston Daily Mail. Here's ESPN.com's recap of the games played in Pittsburgh.

Gonzaga 77, W. Va. 54

Gonzaga's Guy Landry Edi (10) dunks the ball in front of West Virginia's Jabarie Hinds (4) in the first half of an NCAA tournament second-round college basketball game tonight in Pittsburgh. Story here. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic) 

DFO: I'll be following the game via linescore, AP photos, and updated headlines during the afternoon. Feel free to use this thread for you comments.

Gonzaga Vs West Virginia At 4:20 PM

Gonzaga University center Rob Sacre appears on a closed circuit monitor as he listens to a quetion from the media Wednesday in Pittsburgh as the Zags await their opening round game against West Virginia. The two teams tipoff at 4:20 p.m. today on Channel TNT (Channel 31 on Time-Warner). (SR photo: Christopher Anderson)

Question (for bracketologists): Who did you pick for your Final Four?

Join our (unofficial) Sportslink Reader Challenge

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — Everyone loves a bracket challenge. So I created a group on Yahoo! for anyone who wants to submit their picks and match their brackets against the readers of this blog. All you need is a Yahoo! membership, which is free.

Here's the link to join.

The password is: cougs

Winner gets mentioned in a blog post. And possibly a handshake.

Gonzaga To Face West Virginia

Gonzaga drew a seventh seed in the NCAA tournament and will face 10th-seeded West Virginia on Thursday in Morganto…, err, Pittsburgh. “We’re wearing white jerseys but the home-court advantage will be with them,” junior forward Elias Harris said. “It’ll be like a road game, but the fans aren’t on the court. It’s us against them and it really shouldn’t bother us.” The Bulldogs (25-6) and Mountaineers (19-13) square off at 4:20 PDT at CONSOL Energy Center, roughly 2,250 miles from GU’s campus and 75 miles from West Virginia’s campus. The winner will meet the winner of No. 2-seeded Ohio State (185 miles from Pittsburgh) and No. 15 Loyola-Maryland (245 miles) on Saturday. Syracuse is the top seed in the East Region/Jim Meehan, SR. More here. (Kathy Plonka's SR photo of Gonzaga coach Mark Few)

Question: Do you think the Bulldogs were properly seeded at No. 7?

Day after selection Sunday, Cougs head south

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — The dust has settled after another selection Sunday. But selection Sunday means a heck of a lot more selections than it used to. The Cougars were selected by the CBI, along with Oregon State. Four Pac-12 teams were selected by the NIT. And two are headed to the big dance. That's eight conference teams in postseason play. Hey, who said the Pac-12 was down? Wait. Don't answer that. Instead, read on.

CDAJim: And A 10YO Will Lead Us

CDAJim: Over the weekend we got the final report on the March Madness bracket contest that we competed in. There were 133 of us in the competition with me, my wife and son nowhere close to getting in on the winnings. However, the winner, who had picked UConn and beat out everyone in total points and won over $460…. WAS 10 YEARS OLD !!!

Question: How did you do with your NCAA tournament brackets?

Gonzaga’s magical run ends

UPDATED: 12:15 a.m.

Stanford whipped Gonzaga in the Elite 8 of the NCAA Tournament and the photographers whipped us writers, getting the slide show up first.

On the budget is a game story, a notebook (Greg Lee's credit was left off) and John Blanchette's column, which is a must read good-bye to Courtney Vandersloot.

Elite 8 reading, Vandersloot vs. Pohlen

UPDATED: 9:30

Once again it's time to go surfing on the big wave that will carry you right up to the 6 p.m. tip-off off Gonzaga's Elite 8 game with Stanford at the Arena (and on ESPN).

This morning, in addition to the game advance, we had a notebook and John Blanchette's column.   Read on for more of our discoveries.

Starting to build up for Elite Eight

It's overload time … I have filed an advance for Gonzaga's Elite Eight game with Tennessee on Monday night. Coming later is my notebook and keys to the game and John Blanchette is just wrapping up a column. Those stories will be along later tonight or in the morning, but I've found plenty of other stuff for your reading pleasure.

Sweet 16 wrap, on to Elite 8

Yep, woke up this morning (mind you it wasn't too early), saw the newspaper and confirmed, Gonzaga is headed to the Elite Eight of the NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament.

Our coverage included a game story, John Blanchette column, notebook, slide show and the other Sweet 16 Game.

Now the Zags face Stanford, which kindly came to Spokane last November and pulled out a close win over the Zags. But as both teams have been saying today, that was a long time ago.

There will be much more from the Spokane Regional tonight and tomorrow.

For what else I've found for this morning, read on.

Gonzaga joins the Elite

Gonzaga made history Saturday night - women's division - by becoming the lowest seed (11) to make the Elite Eight of the NCAA Basketball Tournament. They did it by holding up down the stretch to beat seventh-seeded Louisville 76-69 before more than 10,700 fans at the Arena.  As usual, Courtney Vandersloot (21) led the charge, setting a NCAA single season assist record and the WCC career steals record along the way.

They get a rematch with Stanford … the Cardinals won 84-78 in McCarthey the second game of the season … after the top-seeded Cardinal survived No. 5 North Carolina 72-65.  We're limited by deadline and exhaustion from providing you more than the story and an amazing 41-picture slide show from Chris Anderson and Dan Pelle. Tomorrow you get John Blanchette's column and a notebook.

You can find a lot more goodies on ESPN.com and a Bud Withers story in the Seattle Times.

Countdown to tip-off for Zags

Less than an hour before Gonzaga and Louisville tip-off in the Sweet 16, the Spokane Regional of the NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament.

And no, don't ask again, I'm not making my prediction public.

Just a couple of things I missed when I blogged at 6 a.m.. Bud Withers from The Seattle Times, which may make you nervous as it talks about the possibility of Graves coaching the Huskies; Michelle Voepel from ESPN.com looking at Courtney Vandersloot and Jackie Stiles.

Tennessee turns back Ohio State to make the Elite 8 in Dayton.

More to read until Sweet 16 tip-off

Good morning. Back to catch up with more stories out of the Spokane Regional of the NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament  before settling in to watch Angie Bjorklund (U-Hi) and Tennessee against Ohio State in the Dayton Regional.

First is columnist John Blanchette's glance back as the group that got this all started for the Gonzaga women, who face Louisville and freshman sensation Shoni Schimmel (above).

There's more, read on.

Gearing up for Gonzaga Sweet 16 in Spokane

Home from the Arena and time to catch up on the women's basketball news.

We have filed our game advances for the Spokane Regional. I'm on the Gonzaga-Louisville game, Greg Lee has the North Carolina-Stanford game. Do you think I need to thank Courtney Vandersloot for the Zags drawing the 6 p.m. game? That 8:30 tip is going to be a deadline nightmare. There is also today's column with John Blanchette's column questioning Gonzaga playing here and the Chris Anderson/Dan Pelle slide show from today's practices at the Arena. (By the way, there are 11,200 tickets to be sold - 600 seats go to bands and other necessary personnel - and less than 1,000 remained as of 4 p.m. on Friday.)

Read on for more.

Bowen is Gonzaga’s unsung hero

Headed down to the Arena to gather the news for the Spokane Regional in the NCAA Women's Basktball Tournament but first wanted to give you the news on Gonzaga's key player from Down Under (Kelly Bowen, pictured above). There should be plenty of reading later today.