In an incredibly exciting and hard-fought game, Gonzaga beat a tough and talented TCU team 84–81. Gonzaga was led by Drew Timme with 28 points and another great post-game interview. Rasir Bolton who was MIA in the first half dropped a warrior-like 17 in the second. Anton Watson was amazing, nine points, 12 rebounds, four assists, three steals and a block. TCU was led by the uber-impressive Mike Miles who scored 24 points with four assists and Emanuel Miller led the Horned Frogs with six rebounds.
Remember how many times you heard about those tough, competitive games during the season making the difference in March? Here’s your prime example. Gonzaga overcame their worst first half in recent memory to return to the Sweet 16 for the eighth consecutive time. It also marked their eighth 30-win season in the past 11 years.
Gonzaga started incredibly slow and was exceedingly fortunate to only be down by five, 38–33 at half. Bothered by TCU’s aggressive defense coupled with missing open looks, they shot 36% from the field, 14% from three (Bolton was 0 for 5) and 54% from the line.
Drew Timme scored 11 first half points and drew at least six of TCU’s 13 first half fouls. He singlehandedly kept Gonzaga in the game despite having to sit the last four minutes of the half after picking up his second foul.
On the other hand TCU, who only shot 30% from deep for the year, hit two of their four three-point attempts including one at the end of the half to stretch the lead to five. TCU moved the ball well (eight assists to GU’s five) and looked far superior in the transition game.
Gonzaga opened the second half looking like a different team, much more intense and in-sync. Bolton, he of the terrible first half, hit his first two three-point attempts followed by another by Strawther to give GU their first lead 46 – 45.
Gonzaga was playing much better, but Mike Miles Jr. ensured TCU stayed in the game. He hit two three-pointers and a couple of driving lay-ups as both teams traded the lead for the next 10 minutes.
Thanks to two timely threes by Malachi Smith, Bolton hitting keys shots and Anton Watson doing a little bit of everything, Gonzaga extended their lead to eight with eight minutes left to play.
Two noteworthy plays highlighted Gonzaga’s resurgence. Timme was called with an offensive foul on a put back, and on the very next possession made a rare three-pointer. Watson embarrassingly missed a dunk off a great pass from Bolton but made up for it on the very next possession with a steal and a breakaway dunk.
TCU was dazed but wouldn’t go away the cut the lead to two with seven minutes left to play and never got any closer. It was vintage Timme Time down the stretch.
Gonzaga kept feeding Drew the ball and he kept scoring and drawing fouls on the TCU defenders. Questionable calls aside, Gonzaga extended the lead the seven with a minute left to play, made the free throws they needed to make and showed a toughness that should impress even the most ardent GU detractors.
Give credit to a well-coached and talented TCU squad that would never quit. They gave Gonzaga everything they could handle.
Once again, Gonzaga moves on to the second weekend of the tournament and will face the #2 seed UCLA on Thursday, 6:45 p.m. in Las Vegas.