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Gonzaga breezes by FDU, advances to second round

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11 straight first round wins

Some people wondered how the Gonzaga Bulldogs would come out after their disastrous WCC Title game performance. Well, they came out and played like they did for the first 32 games of the season. Gonzaga easily dispatched of 16 seed Fairleigh Dickinson, 87-49, to advance to the second round for the 11th straight season. It is Gonzaga’s largest margin of victory (38) in their NCAA Tournament history (27 vs Valpo in 2004).

The Bulldogs were sharp from the opening tip. After exploding for 82 points and shooting 54 percent on Tuesday in their play-in game, FDU was held to a whopping 15 percent shooting in the first 15 minutes of the game. Gonzaga forced 10 first half turnovers and held Darnell Edge and Jahlil Jenkins to 2-for-9 shooting.

Gonzaga’s offense was much sharper than we saw last week. The transition game was electric, and the half court game was just as impressive, pounding the ball inside with ease and then kicking out to hit open threes. It was the Gonzaga we have fallen in love with all season and the one that is dangerous enough to win a National Championship.

Gonzaga scored 47 points in the entire WCC championship game. They had 53 points at half tonight, a team tournament record for a half. They hit seven threes, had 12 assists on 19 buckets, and only turned the ball over three times, taking a 53-17 lead into the break.

The second half was more of the same. Killian Tillie went and did this and we all lost our minds. Throw it down big man!

Tillie finished with probably his best performance of the season - or at least up there with his game at San Francisco. He scored a season-high 17 points on 7-of-8 shooting, including a couple of threes. Rui Hachimura had a game-high 21 points to go with eight rebounds. Brandon Clarke put up another efficient 14 point performance with nine rebounds and three blocks. Zach Norvell dished out seven assists and Geno Crandall scored 10 off the bench.

The Knights ran some zone throughout the game and Gonzaga exploited it well. Tillie and Hachimura probed the middle of the zone and were able to make good decisions to create the best available shot. Obviously, the FDU zone is not the Syracuse 2-3 or the Baylor 1-3-1, but it was still nice that Gonzaga got a little practice against a zone before Saturday. It was also nice that the starters were able to rest the final seven minutes of the game.

Gonzaga will play Baylor and their 3tar playing grad assistant Rem Bakamus, who beat Syracuse 78-69. The Bears hit 16 threes against the Orange’s 2-3 zone. Gonzaga and Baylor will tip at 4:10 pm on TBS.