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Corey Kispert provides much-needed spark for Gonzaga against UNC Greensboro

Gonzaga forwards Jeremy Jones and Corey Kispert warm up before playing UNC Greensboro, Thursday, March 15, 2018 at Taco Bell Arena in Boise. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)
Gonzaga forwards Jeremy Jones and Corey Kispert warm up before playing UNC Greensboro, Thursday, March 15, 2018 at Taco Bell Arena in Boise. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)

Sometimes, the Gonzaga Bulldogs have to turn to their bench for the answers.

In Thursday’s 68-64 win over UNC Greensboro, it was backup guard Corey Kispert who found some solutions to Gonzaga’s early woes from the field.

Gonzaga struggled to find good offensive looks from the start of the game against UNC Greensboro’s press, particularly in the paint. UNCG doubled at the post for the majority of the game, making it difficult for Gonzaga’s bigs to penetrate. The Zags were forced to kick the ball outside, where they had even more difficulties.

“When they did double the post, J3 (Johnathan Williams), Killian (Tillie) and Rui (Hachimura) did a great job skipping the ball out for open 3s,” Kispert said. “It’s big time for us as guards to know that they can fire that thing out there and we can knock those down.”

They found Kispert open for a much-needed 3-pointer 5 minutes into the game. Kispert drained it to tie the score at 8.

Kispert lit a fire inside with a quick drive that finally broke through. After several attempts by forwards Williams and Tillie, Kispert found a path in the paint for a layup that tied the score at 10.

With six minutes left in the half, he pulled inside again for a short jumper that extended Gonzaga’s lead to four.

“I got a couple open looks early and thankfully they fell,” Kispert said. “I feel really good about my game right now. I feel really good about where I’m at.”

Kispert led off the season as a starter and fell into a backup role to Zach Norvell, Jr. after suffering an ankle injury in November. Since then, he’s struggled with consistency on the offensive end.

Kispert appeared to be in a slump in the four games leading up to Thursday. He had just two makes in 13 attempts in those games, which includes an 0 of 6 performance against San Francisco in the West Coast Conference tournament semifinal.

On Thursday, Kispert fought to get back on the upswing. He finished with eight points and three rebounds, all in the first half.


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