Gonzaga survives and advances over UNC Greensboro, despite dismal free throw shooting

Gonzaga MBB meets UNC-Greensboro in First Round of NCAA Tournament

BC-BKC--NCAA-West Region,3rd Ld-Writethru

After grabbing everyone's attention by knocking off Kansas in Lawrence and edging West Virginia when the Mountaineers were ranked No. 2, the Red Raiders came back to Earth down the stretch with a four-game losing streak to land a No. 3 seed and a date with 2016 tournament darlings Stephen F. Austin.

UNC Greensboro almost pulled off the massive upset over last year's national runner-up Gonzaga, but fell short in a 68-64 defeat.

During the last few minutes of the second half the two teams were tied.

ON the season, Gonzaga averages 84.5 points, 39.9 rebounds and 15.7 assists per game.

This story will be updated. Gonzaga is outscoring opponents by 17.4 points per game, the second-highest differential in Division I behind Cincinnati (17.8).

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Gonzaga, in its 20th straight NCAA tournament, won its first game of March Madness for the 10th straight year, though that's not the mission anymore for the Zags.

Gonzaga (30-4, RPI 21) has only faced two teams in the top 32 this season and came away 1-1 in the effort. Xavier may be getting the same treatment Gonzaga did when the Bulldogs finally started to earn No. 1- and 2-seeds, with skeptical onlookers watching closely to see how a perennial March overachiever handles front-runner status.

UNC Greensboro coach Wes Miller was a guard on the North Carolina men's basketball team that won the 2005 NCAA championship under coach Roy Williams. And when the Bulldogs answered with a jumper from redshirt junior guard Josh Perkins with 51.8 seconds left, UNC-Greensboro would never lead again.

"Spokane is a lot closer than UNCG, so please cheer for us", said Perkins, drawing chuckles from the media. It missed four straight inside the final 90 seconds that almost cost it the game, and the Bulldogs needed a dose of luck when a potential game-tying three-pointer by Marvin Smith went halfway down before rattling back out. And for the next 12 months, the UNC-Greensboro Spartans will be forced to sit and think about what could have been if they'd handled those final moments just a little bit better. "I think that's what you do in this situation as a player and coach".

The Zags blew out Ohio State, and at the time nobody thought much of it. Gonzaga was supposed to be good and Ohio State wasn't.

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