If UW’s win over Kansas caused you any anxiety coming into this game, it shouldn’t have. Gonzaga led from the beginning, by 14 at the half and turned the 2nd half into early garbage time in a 97 – 70 win.
Gonzaga started the game attacking the UW’s Syracuse inspired 2 – 3 zone by passing to the interior and JWIII returned to form leading GU in scoring with 23 points to go along with 12 rebounds. Tillie and Rui both looked good in the paint with 11 and 12 points respectively.
If a defense was causing problems tonight, it wasn’t the UW zone, it was Gonzaga’s 3/4 court press. Gonzaga started pressuring the ball early in the first half and took UW completely out of their offensive flow. The Huskies went on a four-minute scoring drought midway through the half and were only shooting 26% from the field after 15 minutes of play. The Zags also doubled the Husky bigs and took advantage of UW’s poor passing to end the game with nine steals.
The flow of the first half was hampered by 24 fouls, but GU took full advantage of the whistles going 14 for 16 from the line to end the half with a 47 – 33 lead. Conversely, Tillie and Larsen were both called with some questionable fouls in the post severely restricting their minutes and causing Tillie to foul out late in the game.
Beginning the second half, Gonzaga extended their lead thanks to timely threes from Perkins, Melson and Norvell while still dominating the paint. I’m not sure if it was the Gonzaga offense firing on all cylinders, UW losing interest in defensive pressure or a combination of the two but the Zags extended their lead throughout the half. The only question in the second half was if Josh Perkins had injured his shoulder. Apparently, it was just a “stinger” because he went to the locker room for about two minutes and immediately entered the game upon his return to the court.
Gonzaga looked very good in their first real road game with 20 assists against 8 turnovers. They also had a very balanced attack with six players in double figures in scoring.
On a side note, Corey Kispert did get some minutes tonight but wasn’t very effective going 1 for 5 from the field, the “1” being a very nice three. Zach Norvell was 0 for 6 from 3 in the 1st half, but kept firing away to go 2 for 5 from the second half. He is fearless with incredible confidence in his abilities. His hard drives to the rim resulted in drawing four fouls and he took full advantage going 7 for 8 from the line. He’s scored over 20 points for the third game in a row and his swagger seems contagious. Speaking of swagger, Josh Perkins had eight assists and committed only one turnover to go along with some incredible three-pointers.
Gonzaga returns home for a game on Saturday, December 16 to take on North Dakota.