Los Angeles, CA – Malcolm Armstead scored 18 points, and Wichita State dominated inside the paint to beat La Salle, 72-58, in the West Regional semifinals of the NCAA Tournament.
The ninth-seeded Shockers (29-8), who advanced to the Elite Eight for the first time since 1981, will take on No. 2 seed Ohio State Saturday. The Buckeyes edged Arizona, 73-70, in the first game at Staples Center Thursday.
The only trip to the Final Four for Wichita State came in 1965 when the Shockers lost to eventual champion UCLA.
Carl Hall tallied 16 points and eight rebounds, and Ron Baker scored 13 for the Shockers, who held a 47-29 rebounding advantage.
"We need one more win to seal this deal and go back home and get ready for the Final Four," Baker said. "I'm really excited for Saturday. We'll work tomorrow and Saturday morning to prepare for Ohio State. It's going to be a grind, and we'll take it day by day."
Jerrell Wright and Tyrone Garland each had 16 points for the 13th-seeded Explorers (24-10), who won three games in this tournament to make it to the Sweet 16. That included a 76-74 win over Ole Miss on Sunday.
Ramon Galloway had 11 points and eight rebounds, but was just 4-of-15 from the field.
"I think everyone on our team has a great feeling about this year," La Salle coach Dr. John Giannini said. "The season's over, but the way we help each other is not over."
The Explorers, who never led, were hampered by horrible first-half shooting. They were 8-of-30 from the field, compared to 16-of-30 for the Shockers. La Salle was behind 17-3 nearly seven minutes into the game.
"I just feel like I missed open shots," Galloway said. "I missed an air ball, a floater. I just like offensively I was just missing shots early. Wichita State is a great team. They work hard and they play real physical. But I think they were playing really good, hard defense, and I just missed shots."
Hall had 14 points on 7-of-8 shooting at the break, and the Explorers never got within single digits in the second half.
"I think we were a little fresher. We beat them down the floor early. We got some good stops and had a commanding lead early and were able to play with that cushion throughout," Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall said.
The Shockers, who upended No. 1 seed Gonzaga in the third round, got a big boost from Hall early. He scored 10 of Wichita State's first 14 points. His layup increased the margin to 14-2 only 4:11 into the game.
Fred Vanvleet's 3-pointer moved the difference to 17-3, and although the Explorers got within eight several times later in the half, the Shockers were just too strong inside and pulled away before the break.
Tekele Cotton's jumper extended the lead to 36-21 and capped a 7-0 push. It was 38-22 at halftime.
Armstead and Baker hit consecutive 3-pointers to start the second half, and it was an uphill battle from there for La Salle.
Tyreek Duren's 3-point play trimmed the deficit to 49-38 with 12:43 left, but Vanvleet countered with a layup.
La Salle cut it to 11 only one more time.
Galloway was 2-of-9 from the field in the first half ... The Explorers shot 35.7 percent for the game ... Wichita State held a 40-26 scoring advantage in the paint and 9-0 cushion in fast-break points.