Southern's bid to become the sweetest sixteen fell a bit short on Thursday.
Despite tying the game with under four minutes to play, the 16th-seeded Jaguars couldn't pull off the upset as top-seeded Gonzaga prevailed 64-58 in a West regional game in Salt Lake City.
Late three-pointers from Gary Bell Jr. and Kevin Pangos saved Gonzaga from being the first No. 1 seed to be defeated by a No. 16 seed since the tournament was expanded to 64 teams in 1996. Top seeds now own a 113-0 all-time record against No. 16 seeds.
Southern, the historically black college from Baton Rouge, La., earned entry to the tournament by winning the Southwestern Athletic Conference. They trailed by only three points at halftime and they tied the game at 56 when leading scorer Derick Beltran (21 points) hit a jumper with 3:45 to play. But they would come no closer as Gonzaga, which has lost only two games all season, found their stroke late.
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Two No. 16 seeds have lost by only one point and both instances came in 1989 when Princeton lost to Georgetown (50-49) and East Tennessee State lost to Oklahoma (72-71). Southern's six-point loss was the smallest for a No. 16 seed since 1996.
Kelly Olynyk led Gonzaga with 21 points. Gonzaga will advance to Saturday's third round where they will face No. 9 Wichita State, which advanced earlier in the day with a win over Pittsburgh.
Southern, meanwhile, will head home knowing they gave Gonzaga the best they could.
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