CHRIS DUFRESNE / ON COLLEGE BASKETBALL

Wichita State scores an outsized victory over La Salle, 72-58

The Shockers race to a 17-3 lead and cruise into the NCAA West Regional final, in which they'll face Ohio State on Saturday.

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You could see it was going to be a problem for La Salle from the opening tip.

The basket on both ends of Staples Center was 10 feet from the floor and Wichita State players were always closer to it.

The four-guard rotation that got La Salle to the Sweet 16 stopped the Explorers from reaching the Elite Eight.

Wichita State's wall was just too much in a game that has always favored taller people. The Shockers also had too much energy and depth.

BOX SCORE: Wichita State 72, La Salle 58

Wichita State jumped La Salle early and basically cruised to a 72-58 win Thursday night to advance to Saturday's West Regional final.

Wichita State will play Ohio State, with the winner advancing to next week's Final Four in Atlanta.

Wichita State is one game from reaching its first Final Four since losing to UCLA in the 1965 semifinals.

Here's the short story: La Salle was out-rebounded 47-29. The Explorers couldn't drive through the Shockers or shoot over them.

Wichita State held La Salle to 35.7% shooting (20 of 56), and only 27% in the first half.

La Salle's 6-foot-11 center Steve Zack, who was cleared after being out with a foot injury, did not play. La Salle Coach John Giannini said he didn't think Zack could move well enough to help the Explorers.

Wichita State raced to an early 17-3 lead and then withstood a series of mini-surges from La Salle.

Wichita State pushed a 16-point lead at halftime to 22 on consecutive three-pointers by Malcolm Armstead and Ron Baker to start the second half.

La Salle narrowed the lead to 11 but never got close enough to make Wichita State sweat.

"They were all over the place," La Salle guard Ramon Galloway said. "They came to play. They went after it. They won every 50-50 ball and got every rebound they needed to get."

La Salle, making its first NCAA tournament since 1992, also could have been tired after traveling 2,754 miles since leaving a week ago Monday for the "play-in" game.

The Explorers defeated Boise State in Dayton, then Kansas State and Mississippi in Kansas City before heading straight to Los Angeles.

"I think we were a little fresher," Shockers Coach Gregg Marshall said.

Wichita State advances to the Elite Eight for the first time since 1981, when it defeated Southern, Iowa and Kansas before losing to Louisiana State in New Orleans.

In Thursday's game, senior forward Carl Hall set the tone early and Armstead dominated late.

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