Gonzaga and Oregon fans can agree on one thing — that semifinals matchup in the Battle 4 Atlantis was entertaining as heck. The Zags seemed to have control early on, putting on an offensive brigade led by Corey Kispert (he finished with 17 points on 5-8 from beyond the arc and 7 rebounds). Gonzaga actually led by 17 points in the first half at one point. The second half and overtime was a completely different story.
On the defensive end, Gonzaga wasn’t boxing out and gave up too many second-chance points to the Ducks. Oregon finished with 18 offensive rebounds. That’s unacceptable. On offense, the Bulldogs were making costly turnovers in the second half and gave up a total of 13 in this one. Also, they were missing too many point-blank layups.
Honestly, Gonzaga fans would be looking at the end of this game a lot differently if Shakur Juiston didn’t miss those two free throws late in OT with 43 seconds on the clock or even if Drew Timme didn’t hit 1 of the 2 free throws with 20 seconds left in the game. Also, Pritchard just hasn’t been clutch for the Ducks in back-to-back affairs (air-balled a potential game winning three-pointer against Seton Hall yesterday and missed a late pull-up jump shot today in OT against the Zags). Gonzaga held on by the skin of their teeth to defeat the #11 Oregon Ducks in their first major resume win of the season.
On the positive side, Filip Petrusev played fantastic today and was a huge part in the win. He contributed 22 points (7-15 from the field and 8-9 from the line) and grabbed 15 rebounds in 40 minutes of play. Zags needed every one of those minutes to grab this tough W. Petrusev is on his way to an all-tournament team selection and (possibly) an MVP trophy for the Battle 4 Atlantis. I’m sure Corey Kispert will have something to say about that tomorrow as the Bulldogs get ready to face off against the Michigan Wolverines on ESPN at 2 PM ET. Some important questions now await the Bulldogs in preparation for tomorrow’s championship showdown. How much will a not 100% healthy backcourt of Ryan Woolridge and Admon Gilder contribute? Can Joel Ayayi step up once more? Will Anton Watson be ready to go? Rest up, Zags. You’re in for another long one.
*Arden Cravalho is a Gonzaga University graduate from the Bay Area... Follow him on Twitter @a_cravalho