SALT LAKE CITY - Jameel Grace sat dejected.
"No one likes a loser," the Southern guard said Thursday after the Jaguars' 64-58 loss to No. 1 Gonzaga. "And that's, unfortunately, what we were today."
But they did.
With the exception of the red and blue throng behind the top-seeded Bulldogs bench, the crowd at EnergySolutions Arena rallied behind the baby blue-and-gold Southwestern Athletic Conference representative, its bangin' band and funky cheerleaders.
And that's to say nothing of the basketball, which saw the Jaguars make 10 of 23 three-pointers, led by Derick Beltran's 21 points.
"I think everybody was so moved by their effort and their resilience and their confidence," Gonzaga coach Mark Few said. "If I wasn't coaching on the other sideline, they would be a tough team not to root for, y'know?"
A No. 16 team has never beaten a No. 1 team.
Southern (23-10) became the fifth 16th seed in the last 20 years to lose by fewer than 10 points; the game's six-point differential was the closest since Purdue defeated Western Carolina 73-71 in 1996.
"Coming into this game we thought we were going to make history," Grace said.
The Jags trailed the Zags by as many as 11 with 9:37 to play, but rallied to tie the game on two Brandon Moore free throws with 4:08 to play.
Gonzaga guard Kevin Pangos and Beltran traded jump shots to keep the game even.
With 3:21 to play, Pangos passed to Gary Bell Jr., who made a three-pointer to give the Bulldogs the lead again.
Two Beltran free throws cut it to one with 2:28 left, before Pangos' three-pointer from the corner with 1:54 to go allowed the Zags to pull away.
Gonzaga forward Kelly Olynyk had four points at halftime, but scored 17 of the team's first 19 points of the second frame.
"It's kind of vintage of how it's been all year," Few said.
The Bulldogs (32-2) advance to play Wichita State on Saturday, and Southern leaves as losers, sure - but lovable ones.
"May we learn, future Jaguars in the locker room," Southern coach Roman Banks said, "that we want to make this an annual invitation."
Pitt falls to Wichita State
It wasn't a game James Naismith would be particularly proud of, but No. 9 Wichita State trudged past No. 8 Pitt 73-55 in the first game of the day.
The teams combined to make 3 of 37 three-point attempts, and neither shot better than 31 percent from the field in the first half.
"We joked," WSU coach Gregg Marshall said, "that the first team to 55 would win the game."
But the Shockers (27-8) returned to normal in the second half, making 52 percent of their shots Oregon transfer Malcolm Armstead led all scorers with 22 points.
Afterward, the guard talked about "playing angry," and in fact the game was physical.
When Pitt led, it was only by two, and it was early; the 24-9 Panthers' last lead was with 29 minutes left in the game.
"They were more aggressive than us from the beginning," Pitt coach Jamie Dixon said. "There was no question."
Only one of the team's five starters made more than two field goals. Combined, the five connected on 10 of 37 shots.
Point guard Tray Woodall made 1 of 12 shots, scored two points, had five turnovers and fouled out after 30 minutes.
"One of the worst games I've ever played," the senior said, in tears.
• Dixon, whose name has been floated for the vacant USC job, was asked if he thought he was going to return to Pitt. He called the question "the farthest thing from my mind." Later, unprompted, he spoke of "looking forward to watching these guys, and coaching these guys, and them being better next year."
• Gonzaga guard David Stockton, who had seven assists in 29 minutes, said it wasn't unusual to play so well in his father John Stockton's former arena.
"The fact that it was in Salt Lake City, where I used to hang out, is irrelevant, I think," he said.