LOS ANGELES -- Wichita State blitzed the La Salle Explorers right out of the gate and advanced to its first Elite Eight in 32 years with a 72-58 win in the NCAA Tournament West Regional Sweet 16 on Thursday night at Staples Center. The Shockers, who knocked off No. 1 Gonzaga in the Round of 32, advance to face Ohio State on Saturday after the Buckeyes defeated Arizona earlier in the day. Unlike their first two upset wins over Pittsburgh and Gonzaga, Wichita State was favored on Thursday despite being a nine-seed. Seconds into the game, they showed why. The Shockers jumped to a 38-22 halftime lead behind a relentless attack and they rarely let up. La Salle fought to keep it close in the second half, cutting the gap to 11 midway through, but Wichita State continued pouring it on. The Shockers held the Explorers to just 36 percent shooting and out-rebounded upstart La Salle, 48-32. Malcolm Armstead led Wichita State with 18 points and six rebounds and Carl Hall added 16 points and eight boards. Ron Baker added 13 points for the Shockers, who snagged 18 offensive rebounds. Tyrone Garland and Jerrell Wright had 16 points for La Salle and Ramon Galloway added 11 points. Wichita State took complete control from just about the opening tipoff. The Explorers tied the game at two less than a minute in and never got any closer than even as the Shockers simply shut down the offense. La Salle managed just 26.7 percent shooting in the first half on its way to a 16-point deficit, while Wichita State shot 53 percent from the field and claimed a 26-12 rebounding advantage. Hall led the Shockers with 14 first-half points and Cleanthony Early and Malcolm Armstead both added six. Garland had eight first-half points for La Salle, but shot just 2-for-10. NOTES: Wichita State last advanced to the Sweet 16 in 2006 after wins over Seton Hall and Tennessee; the Shockers last advanced to the Elite Eight in 1981. ... La Salle joined the 2011 Virginia Commonwealth squad as the only two First Four teams to advance to the Sweet 16. The Explorers are just the fifth 13-seed to make it to the tournament's second weekend, joining Bradley (2006), Oklahoma (1999), Richmond (1988) and Valparaiso (1998). ... Wichita State entered the game with a 10-10 record in NCAA Tournament history. ... La Salle last beat three ranked teams in 1954-55. ... The Shockers only returned 42 of 165 starts from last season's team entering the season. ... The Explorers haven't won four NCAA Tournament games since advancing to the title game in 1955. Wichita State's four-year run of 109 wins is the best in program history. ... Shockers coach Gregg Marshall became the first coach in school history to win back-to-back conference coach of the year honors. ... After a six-game losing streak during the 2008-09 season, Wichita State has gone 110-33.
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