Albuquerque, N.M. So long, Dan Dickau and Gonzaga. The Wyoming Cowboys are the new darlings of the NCAA tournament.
Josh Davis scored 11 points and grabbed 14 rebounds, including one that he slammed in with 1:07 left to punctuate Wyoming's 73-66 upset of the Zags in the West Regional on Thursday.
Wyoming, seeded 11th, wasn't given much of a chance of beating Gonzaga, a team that has made deep runs into the tournament with low seedings a habit in recent years. Only Duke, Michigan State and Gonzaga advanced to the round of 16 the last three years.
But the Cowboys, assuming the role of underdog that Gonzaga wore so well in past tournaments, refused to go away. Instead, it's sixth-seeded Gonzaga that makes a quick exit.
Dickau, the Zags' All-American point guard, struggled through one of his worst shooting nights of the season. He finished with 26 points, but went just 7-for-24 from the field, including 4-for-14 from 3-point range.
Uche Nsonwu-Amadi, the Cowboys' 6-foot-10, 260-pound center from Nigeria, added 14 points, and Josh Bailey scored 13. It was Nsonwu-Amadi's six straight points early in the second half that kept Wyoming close.
Wyoming (22-8) scored seven straight points to erase a 60-56 deficit. That put the Cowboys up 63-60 with 2:17 left and they then played with the kind of poise uncommon in a team making its first trip to the tournament in 14 years.
Dickau, who scored 17 points in the second half, hit two free throws with 1:15 left to cut the deficit to a point, but Davis followed with his two-handed slam off a missed shot by Nsonwu-Amadi. After another Gonzaga miss, Bailey hit two free throws with 56 seconds left and added a layup 33 seconds later.
Dickau never got going on offense, with the tone for his miserable night set early. He hit just two of 10 shots in the first half, had two attempts blocked, and went 1-for-4 at the foul line.
It didn't get any better in the second half, although his 7-for-8 effort on free throws kept Gonzaga in the game late.
Wyoming took a 47-45 lead with 11:34 left off a great defensive play. Gonzaga (29-4) had a 2-on-1 break, and Dickau threw a behind-the-back pass to Zach Gourde. Gourde went up for a layup, but the shot was rejected by Davis, who then passed to Bailey at the other end for a layup.
Moments later, Wyoming had a 49-45 lead on a steal and layup by Paris Corner.
Then it was Gonzaga's turn to rally. Cory Violette kicked off a 10-0 run with a free throw and back-to-back layups off a pair of offensive rebounds. Blake Stepp added two free throws and Dickau ended the run with an NBA-length 3-pointer.
That put the Zags up 55-49 with 6:18 left, but Wyoming still had plenty of fight. Donta Richardson hit a 3-pointer and Nsonwu-Amadi hit a bank shot to get the Cowboys within 56-54.
That got The Pit crowd behind the Cowboys, who play here often as members of the Mountain West Conference. Gonzaga, who used to thrive on the support it drew on neutral courts, suddenly was wearing the other shoe.