A strong start by the Gonzaga Bulldogs was not indicative of what turned out to be a blowout loss at the hands of Purdue in Friday night’s Phil Knight Legacy semifinals. The Zags were handed their second double-digit loss of the season, 84-66.
Drew Timme led the way with 22 points on 10-16 shooting, but he was the only Gonzaga player to find consistent rhythm throughout the game. His 62.5% clip from the floor greatly outpaced his teammates, as the team shot just a hair over 40% for the game.
It was Timme who got things started in the opening minutes, canning a three from the top of the arc for the game’s first score. He was doing it on both ends, coming up with a clean block on Zach Edey shortly after. The Zags’ defense was strong as a whole from the start, forcing Purdue into a bunch of outside shots and denying Edey consistent touches in the opening stages.
Despite the strong early showing on D, Gonzaga didn’t do much to help itself on offense in the first half, as they were held to zero free throws or transition points in the first twenty minutes. The lack of scoring caught up to them, with Edey and the Boilermakers finding their stroke to turn an eight-point deficit into a five-point halftime lead.
The Zags looked like they found some momentum early in the second, with Timme and Rasir Bolton combining on a 7-0 run that featured their first transition points of the game. For the most part, however, Purdue controlled the tempo on both ends of the floor, using Edey’s presence and superior play from their backcourt to halt Gonzaga’s and find consistent scoring opportunities.
Gonzaga’s defense did them no favors in the half, often allowing Purdue easy looks, especially for Edey, who scored 15 of his 23 in the second. Ben Gregg was one of the few bright spots, scoring nine straight points, including the Zags’ first free throw at the 7:05 (!) mark of the second half. His defensive intensity, primarily when guarding Edey, was also a standout effort.
Timme, Gregg, and Co. at least kept close for most of the second, and as far as I’m concerned, nothing of note happened in the final 2-3 minutes of the game. The Zags will play Xavier in the PK Legacy third-place game on Sunday. Hopefully tomorrow’s day off will allow them to wash this one down and start fresh.