Arrow-right Camera
Gonzaga Basketball
Sports >  Gonzaga basketball

Gonzaga’s struggles from the free-throw line stuck around after opening win

UPDATED: Sat., March 17, 2018, 11:34 p.m.

Gonzaga  sophomore forward Rui Hachimura finished 6 for 12 from the free-throw line in Saturday’s victory against Ohio State in Boise. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)
Gonzaga sophomore forward Rui Hachimura finished 6 for 12 from the free-throw line in Saturday’s victory against Ohio State in Boise. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)

For the second time in three days, the Gonzaga Bulldogs nearly took a loss at the line.

The Zags figured that Thursday’s rough free-throw performance against UNC Greensboro, in which the Zags hit just 52 percent of their free throws (13 of 25), was just a fluke.

But in a 90-84 win over Ohio State on Saturday, Gonzaga found themselves once again fighting to stay in the NCAA Tournament from the free-throw line.

The Zags struggled at the line for most of the game, especially in the first half when they missed four of six attempts.

Midway through the second half, the Zags were even worse. They were 4 for 14 at the line with eight minutes left, with most of the misses coming from the bigs.

The Buckeyes took their first lead of the game after sophomore forward Rui Hachimura missed two of his free throws that could have put the Zags up by three points. Ohio State’s Kam Williams answered with a 3-pointer that gave the Buckeyes a 56-54 lead with just over 10 minutes left in the game.

Williams finished the night with the Zags’ worst shooting percentage at the line, hitting just one of his four attempts. After he was sent to the bench in the second half because of foul trouble, the Zags finally found started taking advantage of their free throws.

Guard Zach Norvell Jr. started an eight-minute stretch that saw 15 makes in 17 opportunities at the line. He hit both of his shots to pull within two points of the Buckeyes. Forward Killian Tillie followed with a 3-point play that gave the Zags the lead for good.

The Zags’ performance at the line became crucial in the final two minutes of the game, when they had a six-point lead. Almost all of Gonzaga’s scores in that last stretch were made at the line. Hachimura’s dunk with 3 seconds on the clock was the lone field goal since Norvell’s 3-pointer at 2:16.

The Zags were 12 for 14 in the final 2 minutes. They hit all of their final eight free-throw attempts. Hachimura and guard Silas Melson were the only two who missed a shot apiece in the last stretch.

“Free throws, you know, at the end you’ve got to make them to win games,” said Tillie, who went 3 for 3 at the line. “We just tried to stay calm. Rui made some good ones at the end, everybody made some good ones, so it was good.”


Subscribe to Zags newsletter

Get the latest Zags headlines delivered to your inbox as they happen.

There was a problem subscribing you to the newsletter. Double check your email and try again, or email webteam@spokesman.com

You have been successfully subscribed!


Top stories in Gonzaga basketball

Gonzaga basketball in wait-and-see mode with NCAA rules changes

UPDATED: 10:06 p.m.

Four Zags – Rui Hachimura, Killian Tillie, Zach Norvell Jr. and Brandon Clarke – have tested the NBA waters after the program’s second trip to the Final Four in three seasons. Hachimura leads the way as a projected lottery pick and Tillie is considered a late first-round selection.