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Gonzaga Holds Off Northwestern State, 95-78

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The Demons went absolutely bonkers in the second half.

NCAA Basketball: Northwestern State at Gonzaga James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

The Gonzaga Bulldogs defeated Northwestern State by almost forty points last night. Tonight, the Demons made sure they were not going to be embarrassed again, posting a massive second half and giving the Zags plenty to handle in a much closer 95-78 Gonzaga in.

This game was the tale of two halves. Like last night, Gonzaga opened up with a 14-2 lead, and like last night, the Zags looked a bit lackadaisical on the offense and defensive end. Overall, after 20 minutes, things were totally fine. Gonzaga went into halftime owning a 43-17 lead, holding the Demons to 26.9 percent shooting.

In the second half, it was all Northwestern State all the time. The demons outscored Gonzaga 61-52 in the final 20 minutes. Instead of playing a slowed-down tempo, they just let the rock fly. Led by Jarius Roberson, Northwestern State drained 10 (!!!) of 13 three-pointers in the second half. Things got revving hot enough for the Demons at one point that it wasn’t an absurd visual act to watch Big Boy Larry Owens disrespect Drew Timme with the mustache act. Credit due right there: He earned his moment.

Update: Larry Owens is very polite.

Of course, Northwestern State was never going to win this game, and perhaps that was a little bit of the problem. The Zags looked a bit spacey at times. The turnovers were unforced. The offense was a bit disjointed. This is to be expected as Mark Few did try out multiple lineups. We saw the Tricky Trio on the court at the same time. At one point, the oldest member on the court was a sophomore.

That said, there is plenty to take a deep long hard look at and figure out before playing Virginia on Saturday. Of course, if Gonzaga plays as lazily as they did tonight they will lose to most ranked teams in the nation. Tonight they didn’t play a ranked team. They played an opponent they might never play again in an empty arena without fans. After showcasing the same sorts of struggles for two consecutive nights, it is clear that this team will have to figure out how to maintain that fire and energy when playing the less highly-regarded opponents.

It was not all doom and gloom, however. Timme looked fantastic on the offensive end, finishing with 25 points and nine rebounds off 10-of-15 shooting. Jalen Suggs put together a stat sheet, finishing with 19 points, six rebounds, five assists, three steals, and a block. Anton Watson, who was replaced in the starting lineup by Andrew Nembhard, had his best game of the season, finishing with 10 points, four rebounds, three steals, and a block in 21 minutes.

In the end, a win is a win. Should Gonzaga have won this game by 40 points? Probably. The fact that they didn’t is totally fine. That is what the non-conference is for—to iron out these issues and make sure this squad is ready come March.