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Gonzaga calls upon seldom-used Rui Hachimura for defensive help inside

Gonzaga forward Rui Hachimura (21) and Gonzaga forward Killian Tillie (33) celebrate the WCC title won over Saint Mary's, Tues., March 7, 2017, at Orleans Arena in Las Vegas. (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)
Gonzaga forward Rui Hachimura (21) and Gonzaga forward Killian Tillie (33) celebrate the WCC title won over Saint Mary's, Tues., March 7, 2017, at Orleans Arena in Las Vegas. (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)

SAN JOSE, Calif. – Gonzaga head coach Mark Few decided to shake up his defense in the first half of the Bulldogs’ 61-58 win over West Virginia on Thursday.

Few had freshman Rui Hachimura check in for Jordan Mathews halfway through the first half when the Zags had a three-point lead over the Mountaineers. The 6-foot-8 forward, who has barely seen time in Gonzaga’s close-scoring games this season, provided some needed size on the inside along big man Przemek Karnowski in his 4 total minutes on the floor.

Hachimura picked up a defensive board for the Zags but drew a foul after awkwardly running into a Musketeer while defending in the key. Few pulled the freshman out and brought Mathews back in with 6 minutes left until halftime.

Hachimura came back in for another minute near the end of the first half and picked up another foul after attempting to block a shot at the rim.

Hachimura has played in 27 games this season and averages 4.1 minutes on the court. The forward from Japan has generally received time on the floor this year near the end of games when the win is already determined for the Zags.

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