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NCAA Tournament Recap (Gonzaga-Florida)

Posted: Fri March 19, 1999 at 1:38 a.m EST

PHOENIX (Ticker) -- Casey Calvary's follow shot with 4.4 seconds to play provided the winning points as 10th-seeded Gonzaga continued its stunning run in the NCAA Tournament, advancing one step shy of the Final Four with a 73-72 victory over Florida in the West Region semifinals.

The Bulldogs (28-6) were given a second chance when Florida's Brent Wright was called for traveling with 15.4 seconds to play as he tried to call timeout. After a deflection by Gators guard Kenyan Weakes stopped the clock with 10.6 seconds remaining, Gonzaga's Quentin Hall looked for an opening against Florida's 2-3 zone.

"I called the timeout but the ref said I traveled," said Wright. I saw openings, I called time out but the ref said I was traveled. My heart just dropped with the traveling call."

The 5-8 guard was able to slice through a hole and float a 10-footer that kicked up off the heel of the rim. Calvary, Gonzaga's most athletic player, was able to get his right hand on the shot and watched it bounce off the rim and through the hoop.

"I had both hands on the ball. The ball bounced around and it went in," said Calvary. "I was nervous to get that shot off."

The sixth-seeded Gators (22-9) quickly raced upcourt without calling timeout, and senior Eddie Shannon was able to get a clean look at a 3-pointer from the right side that bounced off the rim.

"This was a tough loss," admitted Shannon. "I was high enough in the air to get the shot off. It was a tough shot to make. I was rushing. I thought I had a chance to make the shot."

Gonzaga, which had not won an NCAA Tournament game before defeating Minnesota in the opening round, is the second 10th seed to reach a regional final in the last three years and seventh overall. The 1997 Providence Friars were the last 10 seed to reach the regional final.

"Do we belong, what kind of question is that," asked Hall. "Yes we belong! The game was a surprie. We expected to win, but the way it ended was a surprise."

The only teams seeded ninth or lower to reach the Final Four were Pennsylvania as a ninth seed in 1979 and LSU as an 11th seed in 1986.

Gonzaga again rode a strong 3-point shooting performance, going 12-of-22. The Bulldogs have made 32-of-63 (50.8 percent) of their shots from beyond the arc in the Tournament and 39.6 percent (42-of-106) from inside the arc.

"I think it is a thing that a lot of people on our team we can do," said Frahm. "We can all hit 3-pointers. We kind of expect it and rely on it at some point in the game. I do not think it is too big of a momentum factor."

The Bulldogs will play top-seeded Connecticut in Saturday's West Region final. Richie Frahm scored 17 points and Calvary finished with 12 for Gonzaga.

Greg Stolt scored 16 points and Wright 15 for Florida, which was denied in a bid for its second Final Four appearance in five years. The Gators reached the Final Four in 1994, but third-year coach Billy Donovan led a team loaded with talented freshmen further than anyone expected.

"This is going to be a positive for our team because our team has a very bad taste in its mouth," insisted Donovan. "Hopefully for this year, this will be in the front of their mind."

Florida trailed 52-44 with 14:08 to play after Calvary had an easy basket in the paint. But the Gators, who missed 15 of their first 16 3-pointers, finally got on track from beyond the arc. Stolt made one that triggered a 12-4 burst and the Gators drew even at 56-56 on a 3-pointer by Major Parker.

Matt Santangelo made two free throws for the Bulldogs before Richie Frahm hit three 3-pointers around long-range bombs by Stolt and Mike Miller, plus a lay-in by Shannon as Gonzaga held a 67-64 lead with 4:10 remaining.

Udonis Haslem made the second of two free throws and a lay-in to tie the game, 67-67, with 2:30 to go. Hall was 1-of-2 from the line, but Miller slashed into the lane for a lay-in as the Gators nosed ahead, 69-68, with 1:48 left. Santangelo made the second of two foul shots 36 seconds later, but Stolt nailed a 3-pointer from the left wing to give Florida a 72-69 lead with 45.7 seconds to play.

Jeremy Eaton's layup with 19.7 seconds left made it a one-point game, setting up Calvary's heroics.

For the third time in as many games, Gonzaga stunned its opponent by getting out to a double-digit lead in the first half. A lay-in by Eaton capped an 8-0 run and gave the Bulldogs a 26-13 cushion with 5:36 left. But Florida switched to a 2-3 zone and countered with a 14-1 run over the next 2:25 to draw even at 27-27.

"When we were up seven and 13, we didn't take advantage of it," said Bulldogs coach Dan Monson. "Neither team played as well as they wanted to. They really had us disrupted. Obviously, in the tournament, it was the ugliest we played, and you have to credit Florida."

The Bulldogs shot 46 percent (25-of-55) overall and overcame a 34-27 rebounding deficit by forcing 19 turnovers. Santangelo finished with 11 points and seven assists, while Hall had five steals.

Miller had 10 points and 11 rebounds for Florida, which shot 43 percent (26-of-60) but only 6-of-24 from 3-point range.

© 2000 Sportsticker Enterprises, LP

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