The faces wearing the jerseys have changed, but the results stay the same. For the sixth time in a row, and 13 of the last 14 games, Gonzaga got the W against the Washington Huskies after taking the 2019 edition of the series by a score of 83-76.
Every Bulldog starter scored in double figures, led by Filip Petrusev’s 17 points and 10 rebounds. Ryan Woolridge had 16 points and 3 steals, while Killian Tillie and Corey Kispert scored 15 apiece. Tillie, in particular, showcased his all-around skill level adding 6 assists, 5 rebounds, and 4 steals as he proved to be the difference maker on the floor, particularly with a late game 3 and then steal and assist to keep the Zags ahead. Joel Ayayi provided the dagger three with 24 seconds left in the game and finished with 12 points, 5 rebounds, and 4 assists.
Washington’s dynamic trio made up the bulk of their production, with Isaiah Stewart leading all scorers with 21 points along with 10 rebounds. Jaden McDaniels and Nahziah Carter scored 15 each.
There was a lot more purple in the crowd than in Gonzaga’s recent visits to the Alaska Airlines Arena, thanks in part to the Huskies’ resurgence under the leadership of Mike Hopkins over the last three seasons. Some would even say this was a road game for the Zags, complete with sad attempts at spirit by the “Dawg Pound.” But ultimately, Gonzaga maintained its death grip on the rivalry.
Washington deployed its trademark zone defense, but it didn’t quite have the bite needed to shut down a balanced Gonzaga attack. Woolridge and Ayayi were dynamic in the first half, allowing the Zags to settle in quickly and stay just a step ahead of the Huskies as they built a 41-37 lead going into the half. Ayayi’s shooting numbers won’t wow anyone in the box score, but he and his backcourt mates did their jobs in outperforming their counterparts in purple.
Gonzaga forced 19 turnovers, with Woolridge and Tillie combining for seven steals. The Zags needed each of those turnovers too, as they weren’t otherwise successful in slowing down the Husky offense which shot over 50% from the field and 39.1% from the arc, a conversion rate that was nearly 10 points higher than their season average going into the game.
Washington held a lead that never got higher than three points for 1 minute and 47 seconds at the start of the game, and then trailed for the remainder of the evening as Gonzaga built a small but consistent cushion and had an answer for every mini-run mounted by the hosts. Gonzaga’s lead was cut down to two with 3:51 left in the first half after a pair of killer turnovers by the Zags, and it was a single possession game a handful of times in the closing minutes. However, the Zags maintained their poise and made every big play that they needed to get in order to close out the game.
The Huskies have some high end talent, to be sure, but the Zags showed that their strength is, and always has been, the collective group working together. Gonzaga executed its game plan and never got rattled at any point in the evening despite the home crowd’s efforts and the pair of NBA first round picks in white jerseys.
Gonzaga will get the week off before dipping back into Pac-12 action when it travels to Arizona next Saturday.