SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The Gonzaga Bulldogs were victorious in the first round of the NCAA Tournament as they took on the South Dakota State University Jackrabbits.
The Zags had a rough first half before beating the Jacks by 20 points. KREM 2 Sports’ Evan Closky breaks down the game.
First, let’s start with the bad. Gonzaga shot 8 of 18 from the free throw line, which is well below the team’s averages. The team also shot less than 40% in a game for the second time this year. Additionally, the team took 30 three-point shots and only hit 8 of them. For the fourth time this year, Nigel Williams-Goss scored less than 10 points.
Catching a theme offensively? The Zags struggled to get the ball in the hoop; something which has happened occasionally throughout the year. More times than not, the team finds a way to pull out the victory.
“They were very tenacious defensively,” said Williams-Goss. “They played really physical, really hard and competed at a high level.”
Now, the good! The Zags’ defense was spectacular holding an opponent to less than 50 points for the sixth time this year. Even though Williams-Goss could not get going, Jordan Matthews stepped up dropping a team-high 16 points. Meantime, Johnathan Williams and Zach Collins were dominant on both ends of the floor.
“This whole week we’ve been talking about Mike Daum, he’s a great player, but J3 is a stellar player and we had every confidence in him that he would stop him,” said Collins.
Overall, the Zags won by 20, which was expected. Maybe some nerves resulted in a sluggish first half, but let’s see how the team looks taking on Northwestern on Saturday. This is Northwestern’s first ever NCAA win and the team has a boatload of fans in Salt Lake City.