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Gonzaga holds off feisty Washington State squad, 69-60

Gonzaga got the last laugh in the series for the time being.

James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

A surprisingly resilient Washington State Cougars squad hung around much longer than most expected before the Gonzaga Bulldogs shut the door, 69-60, on Wednesday night.

The Cougars took an early lead, but then Kyle Wiltjer must have noticed the scoreboard. He proceeded to hit four three-pointers in four minutes to help key a Gonzaga 19-4 run. From there, the Zags wouldn't look back.

Josh Perkins and Silas Melson each chipped in nice games, scoring 16 points and 12 points respectively. It was just enough offense from a short rotation. Gonzaga essentially ran with six players, minus Przemek Karnowski who sat out the game with back issues. Ryan Edwards saw some time and Bryan Alberts chipped in four minutes.

The Gonzaga defense did a good job of keying in on the Cougars. Josh Hawkinson, who came into the game averaging 18 points and 9.7 rebounds per game, was made irrelevant. He finished with four points and attempted just five shots.

Overall, this was one of the more tough games the Zags have had offensively. Gonzaga shot just 42.9 percent from the floor, and was just 7-for-21 from the three point line. Kyle Dranginis, who has been one of the more consistently good shot-takers, finished with four points off of 2-for-8 shooting and was 0-for-4 from beyond the arc. He still glue guyed the hell out of his stat line, however, adding six rebounds and four assists to the board.

Other quick thoughts:

  • It is tough to be critical of Wiltjer since he helped spur the Zags in the early going. But 20 of Wiltjer's 22 points came in the first 10 minutes of the game. He played for 27 minutes after that, and it wasn't the prettiest. Wiltjer also finished with six turnovers.
  • Speaking of turnovers, guess what was a problem again! Everyone had slippery hands in this game, with the Zags collectively turning the ball over 16 times. Gonzaga seemingly cleaned up this issue during the Battle 4 Atlantis. Let's hope this was an aberration.
  • Perkins had one of his best games in a Zag uniform. He was fearless in taking his shots, kept his fouls and turnovers down, and that was the big game changer. If he can put in more games of this caliber, these Zags will be hard to take down.
  • This is not a very deep squad at the moment, or at least Mark Few doesn't seem to think so. When the going gets rough, apparently the bench tightens up. Gonzaga had five players with at least 30 minutes.