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Gonzaga happily obliges when Xavier dares Bulldogs to shoot 3-pointers in Elite Eight

Gonzaga guard Nigel Williams-Goss (5) hits a 3-pointer in the first half against Xavier on Saturday. (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)
Gonzaga guard Nigel Williams-Goss (5) hits a 3-pointer in the first half against Xavier on Saturday. (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)

SAN JOSE, Calif. – Xavier had a defensive game plan against Gonzaga: Let the Bulldogs shoot 3-pointers.

The Zags were happy to go along with the dare, making 8 of 13 from behind the arc in the first half and shooting 50-percent from out there for the game.

To be fair, Musketeers coach Chris Mack had reasons to think the Zags would not connect at such a blistering pace. The Bulldogs made just 16 of 56 3-point attempts during their first three NCAA Tournament games. Zags not named Jordan Mathews made just 7 of 31.

“A couple of their guys shot a lot better percentage from 3 than they’re accustomed to,” Mack said.

“A team that’s 290th in the country relying on 3-point shots goes 12 for 24, 50 percent from the 3-point line,” he added.

“Part of the game plan was to keep the floor tight. We wanted them to take those shots,” Xavier guard Malcom Bernard said.

GU was not shooting well from outside in the tournament. But the Musketeers should also have known that the Zags have the ability to heat up.

Not only was Saturday’s game the ninth time this season GU has hit for double digits in 3-pointers in a game, it was the third time the Zags hit at least eight 3-pointers in the first half.



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