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10 Observations from Gonzaga’s WCC Quarterfinal win

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28-4

NCAA Basketball: West Coast Conference Tournament-Gonzaga vs Loyola Marymount Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Survive and advance:

  1. That was a good time for Gonzaga to have its best 3-point shooting performance (12-20) of the season. Three of Gonzaga’s top-4 long distance shooting games (v. Pepperdine, @San Diego) have come in the last 4 games, so hopefully they can maintain this rhythm.
  2. Kudos to Josh Perkins for playing within the confines of the game and taking what the defense allowed. Perkins was limited to two points and three shot attempts, but more importantly he only made a single turnover while picking up six assists. Mired in the foul trouble for the first half while the offense struggled, Perkins could have let this game get away from him mentally but he stayed engaged and did well to facilitate the game plan in the second half. It was a mature performance.
  3. Rui Hachimura nearly came away with a double-double (9 points and 10 rebounds), but this wasn’t one of his best games. He was largely ineffective through the first 30 minutes, and as a result tried to force the action even more, oftentimes to his detriment.
  4. It was a tough night for Silas Melson too, as he picked up some poor fouls and struggled to get into the flow of the offense for much of the night.
  5. James Batemon proved to be a tough cover in this one, and the junior guard continued his scoring tear with his third consecutive game over 20 points. Once he started to heat up, I would have preferred to see the Zags overplay to deny him the ball or double him to force the ball out of his hands, especially considering the lack of weapons fielded by LMU. Batemon’s the classic combo guard who is able to break down a defense or shoot over the top while also facilitating for his teammates. He carries a disproportionate amount of the offensive burden for LMU, but he was certainly up to the task against Gonzaga. He’ll be fun to watch next year as the Lions hope to make a move up the WCC hierarchy.
  6. LMU is a pretty young team, and should be poised to have a pretty decent 2018-19 season (relatively speaking). But we’ve said that about many WCC teams in the past and have been left disappointed.
  7. If not for foul trouble, Zach Norvell might have had a really gaudy night. He still finished with 17 points (12 in the second half as two fouls in the first limited his time) and shot the ball very well all night long. It’s fun to imagine what he’ll be as a player when he can find more consistency in his play.
  8. Thank God for Killian Tillie. The Zags would have definitely been trailing at the break if not for the sophomore forward. While his perfect performance from the arc (5-5) was extremely impressive, it was his hustle on 50-50 plays that really helped Gonzaga pick up the win. Mark Few utilizes Tillie as a jack-of-all-trades fixer on the floor, a difficult role to fill for most players, but Tillie pulls it off well. He’s really elevated his play over the last 3-4 weeks, but if he can keep this up Gonzaga should be in for a deep run.
  9. Johnathan Williams came out of halftime and put the Zags on his shoulders, so I’ll forgive the first half turnovers. He was unstoppable during the first five minutes of the second half, which really opened up the floor for his teammates. It’s a great luxury to be able to throw the ball inside when nothing else is working and know that Williams will get it done.
  10. Not related to this game, but Pepperdine came so tantalizingly close to knocking off SMC. The end of that game was absolutely brutal, and the Gaels should count themselves lucky to still be in action. A Pepperdine upset would have been the highlight of the season for me, and would have put the Gaels in a position where they would be firmly on the bubble come Selection Sunday.