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Killian Tillie’s injury overshadows Gonzaga’s win at Portland

Gonzaga forward Killian Tillie is looked at on the bench after being injured during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Portland in Portland, Ore., Monday, Jan. 23, 2017. Gonzaga won 83-64. (Steve Dykes / Associated Press)
Gonzaga forward Killian Tillie is looked at on the bench after being injured during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Portland in Portland, Ore., Monday, Jan. 23, 2017. Gonzaga won 83-64. (Steve Dykes / Associated Press)

PORTLAND – Josh Perkins left the court against Saint Mary’s nursing a tender back 10 days ago.

Nigel Williams-Goss hobbled off the floor versus Portland with a sore hip two days ago.

This unfortunate trend continued Monday when freshman forward Killian Tillie sprained his right ankle and needed assistance from teammate Zach Collins leaving the floor.

The outcome had been decided – No. 3 Gonzaga would coast to an 83-64 victory over the Pilots at the Chiles Center – so the post-game concerns shifted to Tillie’s health.

Gonzaga seems to have dodged the prior injury scares to Perkins and Williams-Goss, but Tillie’s injury might require longer recovery time.

Perkins returned in the second half against the Gaels and played his customary minutes in the last three games. Williams-Goss started against the Pilots and logged 26 minutes. He acknowledged he wasn’t at 100 percent but he was still effective with a team-high five assists.

Tillie went down under Portland’s basket during a scrap for a rebound. He stayed on the court for a few minutes before needing help walking to the bench.

“Looks like a pretty bad ankle sprain,” coach Mark Few said.

In the next 30 seconds, forward Johnathan Williams was seen limping and he, too, subbed out of the game.

“I’m doing all right,” Williams said. “Just working with Josh (Therrien, athletic trainer) making sure I’m staying healthy, staying on top of my nutrition.”

Tillie’s ankle was puffy afterward. He hopped out of the shower on one leg.

“I got pushed and fell really badly on my ankle,” said Tillie, who added that he sprained the same ankle earlier this month.

The 6-foot-10 freshman from France plays an important role in Gonzaga’s eight-man rotation. His 13.9 minutes per game are the fewest of the eight, but Tillie packs his playing time with energy, hustle and momentum-changing plays.

He’s a terrific offensive rebounder with a nose for the ball. He stretches the floor with his 47.6-percent accuracy beyond the arc, second only to Williams.

He nearly replicated his season averages Monday with four points, three boards and a blocked shot. However, the play that had Gonzaga’s bench standing and applauding came when Tillie tied up Portland’s Chier Maker for a rebound and both went tumbling to the ground.

If Tillie is sidelined, GU could turn to Rui Hachimura, the athletic freshman who has been productive in limited minutes, or sophomore Jeremy Jones, who has struggled to carve out playing time after missing extended time with a high ankle sprain.

Either way, it isn’t the best time for another injury concern. Gonzaga is in the middle of a 10-day stretch with five games. The Zags are back at it Thursday in Spokane against San Diego.

“It was physical in there, that’s what scares you a little bit,” Few said. “We’ve been going pretty hard here. We’ll get a rest day tomorrow and get ’em back up again for another Thursday, Saturday. Monday’s (rescheduled game) doesn’t just impact last week but this coming week.”

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