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Gonzaga hangs on to beat Pepperdine 75-70

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Sloppy play and missed bunnies almost cause an upset

NCAA Basketball: Pepperdine at Gonzaga James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

Gonzaga beat the Pepperdine Waves for the 38th straight time 75-70 but it definitely wasn’t easy nor was it pretty. Turnovers, offensive fouls, missed lay-ups and free throws coupled with a great game by Colby Ross almost allowed another #1 team to get knocked off their perch.

Gonzaga was led by Killian Tillie who is returning to close to 100%. He scored 20 points to go with 4 rebounds, 4 assists and the game saving block. Filip Petrusev scored 16 with 10 rebounds with Kispert, Ayayi, and Gilder also scoring in double digits. The Waves Colby Ross led all scorers with 24 points with Kameron Edward adding 14.

In a very quiet Kennel, Colby Ross, seemingly energized by Arden’s interview, scored 11 of Pepperdine’s first 13 points to give the Waves an early lead. Drew Timme and Killian Tillie then exerted their wills, both doing a little of everything allowing Gonzaga to take then extend the lead to 31-22. Gonzaga then gets sloppy, committing several turnovers and offensive fouls as Pepperdine went on a 15 to 6 run including scoring 8 straight. Gonzaga missed at least five lay-ups, shot 1 for 9 from three and 57% from the line allowing Pepperdine to tie the game at 37 at the end of the first half.

The second half didn’t start promising as both Kispert and Petrusev missed bunnies in the same possession followed by Tillie missing one on the next possession. A three by Kispert, a Tillie dunk followed by a three by Ayayi put the Zags back on track giving them a 51-44 lead. They got to hold that lead for exactly 3:21 as Pepperdine came roaring back with nine straight including a coast to coast by Colby Ross to take a 53-51 lead.

The crowd then started to make some noise after a GU time-out, Gonzaga would grab and extend the lead, but give it back with turnovers and offensive fouls. Thankfully, Admon Gilder came on strong midway through the second half with a nice shot in the lane, a timely 3 then a steal followed by a lay-up.

Gilder and Tillie’s efforts enabled Gonzaga to extend their lead to eight, 71-63 with 2:19 left in the game, but Pepperdine went on a 7-2 run to pull within three. With 14 seconds left, Kispert missed the front end of a one-and-one giving Colby Ross a chance to tie the game but Tillie blocked his three-point attempt. Admon Gilder came up with the ball, was fouled and sunk the both game clinching free throws.

The Zags have not looked good in 2020. They committed five charging violations tonight as part of their overall 17 turnovers. The defense looked confused and their failure to pick-up open shooters beyond the arc allowed several easy threes. I don’t know if it’s the long lay-off in late December or overall complacency, but the team has not looked sharp in either game this week.