No. 1 Gonzaga comes alive late to race past Georgia St 93-72
PORTLAND, Ore. -- Drew Timme scored 22 of his 32 points in the second half and top overall seed Gonzaga struggled to shake No. 16 seed Georgia State for 30 minutes before pulling away late for a 93-72 win in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Thursday.
The tournament’s No. 1 team for the second straight season, the Zags (27-3) were sluggish early and couldn’t make a basket for a long stretch of the first half. Even when Gonzaga’s offense kicked into gear after halftime, the Panthers didn’t fold.
The eventual overwhelming surge from the Bulldogs finally arrived with about 10 minutes to go. Gonzaga went on a 24-1 run, turning a four-point game into the blowout that was expected. The Zags will face the West Region’s No. 9 seed, Memphis, in the second round on Saturday.
Timme was the catalyst, topping 30 points for the fifth time in his career while also grabbing 13 rebounds. Chet Holmgren, the Zags’ 7-foot freshman, added 19 points, 17 rebounds and seven blocks.
Corey Allen led Georgia State (18-10) with 16 points, and Jalen Thomas and Kane Williams both added 12. The Panthers trailed by two at halftime despite shooting 29% and were down 62-58 with 10 1/2 minutes left. From there, they watched Gonzaga put together the kind spurt that’s made it the favorite to win its first national title.
Gonzaga led 64-58 when Holmgren scored on a putback and Nolan Hickman blocked a shot and scored in transition. Six points from Timme quickly pushed the lead to 16.
By the time Georgia State scored again with five minutes left, the Panthers trailed by 22 and the dream of the second 16-over-1 upset in tournament history had fizzled.
Gonzaga coach Mark Few warned that in his view Georgia State didn’t fit the typical profile of a No. 16 seed. The Sun Belt Conference Tournament champion entered the tournament on a 10-game winning streak and had one loss since Jan. 27.
Even when Timme scored 10 points in the first six minutes of the second half, the Panthers hung around thanks to the shooting of Justin Roberts, Williams and Allen.
Eventually, the Panthers started missing and Gonzaga’s stars kept scoring. Foul trouble also caught up with Georgia State as Kaleb Scott committed his fifth foul with 10:26 left, one of three interior players to foul out for the Panthers.
Georgia State: Making their fifth NCAA Tournament appearance, the Panthers simply didn’t have the interior bodies to match the Bulldogs. It didn’t help when forward Eliel Nsoseme went down clutching his left knee in the latter portion of the first half. Nsoseme was down on the court for several minutes slapping the floor and yelling in discomfort before eventually walking to the locker room.
Gonzaga: Foul shooting will be something to watch for the Bulldogs. Gonzaga was 9 of 19 in the first half and 16 of 30 for the game. The Zags had been solid for most of the season, shooting 73% as a team.
Gonzaga will face a dangerous Memphis team that bounced back from a rough start to the season.