The Gonzaga Bulldogs topped the Washington Huskies in their first game of the Battle 4 Atlantis Tournament, 80-64, on Wednesday morning.
It was the matchup we've all been waiting on for nearly a decade. Technically, the four-year home and home series isn't supposed to start until next year. This was just a teaser. The main takeaway: these will be some real good games in a couple of years.
Gonzaga took hold of this contest early on and never really let go. They could also never really put enough distance between the two to blow the game wide open. Washington, for all of their youth and inexperience, played their hearts out, and at times looked like they wanted to will their way to victory more than Gonzaga did.
Unfortunately, skill and smarts still wins out in those situations. Washington had no answer for Kyle Wiltjer (24 points, 11 rebounds) or Domantas Sabonis (17 points, nine rebounds). Gonzaga struggled with turnovers (once again), left quite a few shots at the free throw line (once again), and didn't have a huge outside shot presence (once again), but this game never was in Washington's hands.
The Huskies got 21 points from Andrew Andrews and Dejounte Murray, but the rest of the team couldn't hit the side of the backboard to save its life. The Huskies shot just 25.7 percent from the floor. They dominated the offensive glass with 22 rebounds, but couldn't score any points off of those bonus shots.
The Gonzaga backcourt wasn't at its finest this game, but once again that wasn't much of an issue. The big three combined for 53 of GU's 80 points. Josh Perkins was limited by foul trouble, and both Silas Melson and Eric McClellan didn't have the shooters touch today. That said, after watching the backcourt shine against Northern Arizona, it is almost drool worthy to think of how this team will operate when both sides of the coin are clicking.
The same can be said for Washington. The Huskies are one of the youngest teams in the nation, and it showed mightily today. UW was harried by consistent and constant dumb fouls, which although ticky-tacky in nature are also fouls in the game, and therefore will be called. The talent for the future is there, clearly. The Huskies showed a lot of grit and hustle in this game. Next year, they could be quite a scary team.
Gonzaga now has 24 hours to enjoy their time in the Bahamas before taking on the winner of Texas and Texas A&M at 10:00 am PT tomorrow morning. Go Zags!