The Gonzaga Bulldogs extended the San Francisco Dons’ three-game losing streak with a convincing 92-62 victory, but may have been dealt a serious blow after Killian Tillie went down with a foot injury in the second half.
Brandon Clarke led all players with 20 points, 16 rebounds, and 5 blocks in a complete performance that saw him become Gonzaga’s new record holder for blocks in a single season. Zach Norvell and Rui Hachimura also had strong nights on either side of halftime, while Geno Crandall chipped in 12 points off the bench.
After playing Gonzaga tight for 35 minutes at home last month, the Dons were keen to finish the job this time around and resurrect their now-distant tournament hopes with a resume-boosting win in Spokane. With a veteran-laden group, Kyle Smith’s squad wasn’t cowed by playing in The Kennel against the Gonzaga machine. The first half was a tight but torrid affair as the two teams exchanged blows early and often.
Neither team was able to gain any meaningful separation early on, as USF’s largest lead was four points before the first media timeout, while Gonzaga twice stretched its load to nine points before being reeled back in. Finally, however, a mini-surge in the final 90 seconds of the first half allowed the Zags to enter the locker room at halftime with a 43-30 lead. Norvell and Clarke, in particular, were terrific throughout the first 20 minutes of the game. Clarke secured the program’s single season blocks record during that period, while Norvell tossed a perfect game from the arc (3-3).
Gonzaga’s strong finish carried over to the start of the second half, and a handful of highlight finishes at the rim ratcheted up the energy in the gym. Though the Dons stayed mentally engaged and competitive, the flood gates had opened and not even a Frankie Ferrari banked three-pointer could stop it.
It was fun to watch the Zags flex their muscles and hand the Dons their worst loss of the season, after previously handing the Dons their worst loss of the season, but the sight of Tillie limping off the floor midway through the second half with an apparent foot injury cast a pall on the rest of the evening.
The Zags proved in Maui that they can still beat any team in the country while shorthanded, but losing him for any extended amount of time at this point in the calendar would be a devastating blow for both him and the program. Even with another big game on Saturday against Saint Mary’s, the central focus of the entire fanbase turns to the status of Tillie’s foot over the next few days. However his injury diagnosis shakes out will have significant ramifications on the rest of the season.