Not that it's been a while or anything, but the La Salle Explorers have won two games in the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1955...

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Not that it’s been a while or anything, but the La Salle Explorers have won two games in the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1955, when they lost in the national title game to Bill Russell and San Francisco.

But the 13th-seeded Explorers only pulled out a 63-61 victory over fourth-seeded Kansas State on Friday in the West Regional despite an awful lot of failures.

La Salle led by 18 at halftime before going 3 of 18 from the field in the second half, and didn’t have a bucket in the last 7 minutes, 56 seconds.

Jerrell Wright, who finished with 21 points, made three free throws in the final 30 seconds and the Atlantic 10 team buckled down on defense in the closing minutes to pull off an astonishing upset in front of a partisan Kansas State crowd.

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Coach John Giannini’s message to his La Salle players during each second-half timeout: keep playing defense.

“Every time we came in, he was riding us on defense,” said Ramon Galloway, who had 19 points for La Salle. “We had to stick together, dig down deep and get some stops.”

Kansas State trailed 44-26 at halftime before catching fire. But the Wildcats (27-8) went cold at the finish.

That gave the Explorers (22-9) the window they needed to advance to a Sunday game against 12th-seeded Mississippi.

It has been a frantic week for La Salle, which beat Boise State in one of the First Four games Wednesday night in Dayton, Ohio, caught a late plane to Kansas City and has now won two games in the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1955.

“We’re not playing with house money. That’s not at all how we’d ever think,” said Giannini, whose program hadn’t even been to the NCAA tournament since 1992.

Other games

Mississippi 57, Wisconsin 46

In Kansas City, Marshall Henderson shook out of a shooting slump and scored 17 points in the second half as the 12th-seeded Rebels claimed their first NCAA tournament win since 2002.

Ole Miss (27-8) trailed 25-22 at halftime and Henderson, who led the Southeastern Conference at 20 points per game, had only two points on 1-for-11 shooting. But the flamboyant guard found his touch.

Fifth-seeded Wisconsin (23-12) shot only 25.4 percent (15 of 59), including 7 of 30 beyond the three-point arc.

Ohio State 95, Iona 70

In Dayton, Ohio, Sam Thompson had career highs with 20 points and 10 rebounds, part of a dominating performance by Ohio State’s front line. The second-seeded Buckeyes (27-7) have won nine straight going into Sunday’s game against Iowa State.

Deshaun Thomas scored 24 points, Aaron Craft had a season-high six steals and seven assists, and Shannon Scott tied his career high with 10 assists for the Buckeyes. Tavon Sledge scored 20 for Iona (20-14), which is 1-9 all-time in the tournament.

Iowa State 76, Notre Dame 58

In Dayton, freshman Georges Niang matched a season high with 19 points and the 10th-seeded Cyclones (23-11), showing they can do much more than just fire away from outside the three-point line, dismantled the seventh-seeded Irish (25-10). Iowa State led the nation in three-pointers this season, but the Cyclones were just as effective from short range. Melvin Ejim added 17 points for ISU.

Seed ya later

Three of the top 5 seeds in the West Region were ousted in the opening round:

(1) Gonzaga def. (16) Southern, 64-58

(2) Ohio State def. (15) Iona, 95-70

(3) New Mexico lost to (14) Harvard, 68-62

(4) Kansas State lost to (13) LaSalle, 63-61

(5) Wisconsin lost to (12) Ole Miss, 57-46

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