Kansas City, MO – Jerrell Wright made three free throws in the final 30 seconds to lift La Salle to a 63-61 win over Kansas State in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
Wright had 21 points on a perfect 6-for-6 from the field and was 9-for-10 from the foul line for the Explorers (23-9), who are making their first NCAA Tournament appearance since 1992 and advanced to the second round with an 80-71 victory over Boise State in Wednesday's First Four.
Ramon Galloway tallied 19 points and Sam Mills added 10 for La Salle, the 13th seed in the West Region. The Explorers will face 12th-seed Ole Miss in the third round on Sunday.
"We only have time to be tired and sore, so we just living in the moment, taking every chance," Galloway said.
Jordan Henriquez and Shane Southwell scored 17 points for the Wildcats (27-8), who were in the NCAA Tournament for the fourth straight year and were coming off a loss to Kansas in the Big 12 Conference Tournament final. Henriquez also had 12 rebounds, but the Wildcats were held without a bucket for the final 4:54 of the game.
"They ended up coming down and getting stops," Henriquez said. "We didn't really make too many free throws down the stretch."
After a free throw by Henriquez, Wright sank both of his free throws to tie the game at 58 with just over six minutes to go.
Henriquez would make a layup to put Kansas State back ahead, but Wright responded with two more free throws and the game was tied once more with 4:18 left.
Henriquez made one more free throw with 2:25 to play, but that would be the final score for the Wildcats.
Wright made two free throws with 30 seconds to go, then one more with nine seconds remaining.
"There was no butterflies," Wright said. "Coach just told me every time I shoot a free throw, have the same form, keep my focus when I shoot my free throw. Today I just thought about 'in.'"
Rodriguez attempted a jumper with two seconds left but missed, and La Salle grabbed the defensive rebound to secure the win.
La Salle was strong in the first half, shooting 58.1 percent from the floor and 6-of-11 from beyond the arc. The Explorers opened the game with a 24-9 run in the first 9 1/2 minutes.
By halftime, the Explorers extended their lead to 44-26.
La Salle had trouble making shots in the second half, however, scoring just 19 points on 16.7 percent (3-of-18) shooting.
The Explorers' offensive difficulties allowed the Wildcats to come back, with Henriquez, Southwell and Rodney McGruder leading the rally. Henriquez scored 12 points and grabbed seven boards after halftime, while Southwell and McGruder each scored eight points.
Down 57-56 with 7:09 remaining in regulation, McGruder made a layup to give Kansas State its first lead of the game.
Wright had eight rebounds ... La Salle was 14-of-16 from the foul line, while Kansas State was 9-of-17 ... The Explorers won two games in an NCAA Tournament for the first time since reaching the National Championship Game in 1955. La Salle won the NCAA Tournament the year before ... Coming into the game, Kansas State was 3-0 against La Salle, including a 66-53 win in the first round in the 1988 NCAA Tournament.