Williams-Goss finished with 25 points, eight rebounds and five assists, and helped hold off a surprisingly persistent Santa Clara squad that wasn’t quite ready for its season to come to a close.
A lot of that was because Jared Brownridge was busy doing Jared Brownridge things, which means he was dragging his team kicking and screaming to a potential upset. Brownridge finished with a hard-earned 32 points, and luckily for the Zags, was just 4-of-12 from three point range.
Santa Clara was able to stay in the game for much longer than anyone expected because of the outside shot. At one point, they were 8-of-20 from beyond the arc, with Matt Hauser providing a few too many daggers for the Zags to handle.
The game never really looked in danger of falling out of Gonzaga’s grip, but at the same time, Santa Clara never looked like they were willing to go into the night quietly. On the other side of the coin, the Gonzaga offense just wasn’t getting the support it normally provides. Przemek Karnowski was excellent, scoring 19 points, and Johnathan Williams added 11. The Zags finished with 46 points in the paint.
The backcourt, however, was a completely different story. Williams-Goss aside, Jordan Mathews scored seven points, Silas Melson scored two points, and Josh Perkins finished with a grand total of zero points. In fact, Melson and Perkins combined for eight fouls between the two. Although turnovers were not an issue in the game, the Gonzaga backcourt was rendered largely useless (excluding Williams-Goss of course).
The Zags are hardly the first team to struggle putting away a team with Jared Brownridge on it, but this is the second-consecutive game that has been a bit of a head scratcher for a team that is now 31-1. If the BYU loss really affected the team chemistry that much, the Zags need to figure it out sooner than later, or else it will be an early exit from the NCAA Tournament.
The fact of the matter is that Brownridge was hitting shots, and that kept the Broncos in it. Santa Clara was missing its second leading scorer K.J. Feagin due to a concussion, and two starters (Emmanuel Ndumanya and Nate Kratch) had four fouls with 15 minutes left in the second half. And yet, the Zags couldn’t quite put this game away. It was a weird one, and the lack of three point shooting and backcourt didn’t help.
But at the end of the day, the Zags have Nigel Williams-Goss, and that is all that matters. That and making the WCC Tournament Championship Game for the 20th-straight season.