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The Dagger: College Basketball Blog

Size and poise help Wichita State win battle of Cinderellas over La Salle

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(USA Today Sports Images)

Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall has asked his team the same question at every stage of its NCAA tournament experience. From Selection Sunday when the Shockers earned an at-large berth to an historic victory over No. 1 seed Gonzaga Marshall has been consistent.

"Are you now satisfied," Marshall asks.

He came at his team with that message prior to a matchup with fellow Cinderella La Salle on Thursday night at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. Marshall allowed television cameras into the locker room to record his pregame address.

"Are you now satisfied with a Sweet 16 run or do you want to stick around L.A. and make it an Elite Eight," Marshall asked.

The No. 9 seeded Shockers provided a convincing answer in a 72-58 victory over No. 13 seed La Salle taking control from the start and never looking back. They led by 22 at one point early in the second half before La Salle made a mini run that only served to re-focus the Shockers.

La Salle (24-10) couldn't compete inside in its fourth tournament game. The Explorers are used to being at a size disadvantage but were unable to take control with the superior guard play that had carried them through the rugged regular season in the A-10 and the first three games in the tournament.

The Explorers' leading scorer, Ramon Galloway, made just four of 15 shots and scored 11 points. La Salle generally went one-and-done on the offensive end, losing the rebounding battle 44-23.

Wichita State, which has now out-rebounded 33 of 37 opponents this season, simply imposed its will in the paint early behind forward Carl Hall. He scored 16 points with eight rebounds and three blocks.

When Hall cooled off in the second half, guard Malcolm Armstead picked up the slack. He scored 18 points as the Shockers seemed to have an answer for every rally La Salle produced.

The Shockers will play No. 2 seed Ohio State (29-7) on Saturday.

Wichita State (29-8) advanced to the Elite Eight for the first time since 1981 when the tournament was still limited to 48 teams. The Shockers' only Final Four appearance came in 1965 when they lost in the national semifinals to UCLA.

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