LAKE BUENA VISTA, Florida – Gonzaga fired several ill-advised passes that left coach Mark Few with hands on hips and asking, ‘Why?’
The 11th-ranked Zags missed shots, lots of shots, from beyond the 3-point arc, including several without a defender in the vicinity. They had trouble, at times, dealing with Quinnipiac’s 1-3-1 zone defense.
They had defensive lapses, once leaving Quinnipiac leading scorer Reggie Oliver alone to drain a mid-range jumper.
They still won comfortably, 82-62, on Thursday in the opening round of the AdvoCare Invitational at the HP Field House, and coach Mark Few offered a reminder that not every game is going to be a masterpiece.
“Like I told the guys, we’re not going to be up 30 every game at half or by the end of the first media timeout,” said Few, after praising Quinnipiac’s effort. “It’s Division I basketball. It’s scratch and claw and find your way through it, and I thought we did a nice job of doing that.”
GU (4-0), now 7-0 in Orlando tournament games, advances to the semifinals against Florida, which defeated Seton Hall 81-76.
Quinnipiac (0-3) kept it interesting for nearly 28 minutes, pulling within 50-40 on Oliver’s bank shot.
Gonzaga guard Jordan Mathews had missed seven straight 3s – four against the Bobcats and three against Bryant last Friday – before burying a catch-and-shoot 3 from the wing.
Mathews repeated the feat on the next possession and GU was up 16. Johnathan Williams then delivered three consecutive field goals inside and Gonzaga’s lead was 20.
“I don’t think I’ve ever played in a game like that where we won by 20 but it didn’t feel like 20,” said Mathews, before turning the page to Friday’s game. “Quick turnaround, we have to get ready.”
Zach Collins’ three-point play made it a 23-point margin, GU’s largest of the game.
“A couple of guys raised up,” Few said. “I thought Nigel (Williams-Goss) was poking some things loose, (Josh) Perkins was poking some things loose, which kind of allowed us to play better offensively because in the first half we weren’t very good.”
Four Zags reached double figures with Williams and Collins both scoring 13. Williams-Goss had eight points, eight assists, six rebounds and three steals. Perkins and Mathews contributed 10 points apiece.
Przemek Karnowski finished with eight points, eight rebounds and three assists. The Zags dominated the boards, 48-31, leading to an eight-point advantage in second-chance points.
Freshman guard Peter Kiss paced Quinnipiac with 18 points.
“They came out fighting,” Collins said. “We fought back and we didn’t let the first half dictate what was going to happen in the second half.”
If you’re a fan of turnovers and errant 3-pointers the first half was for you. The teams combined to go 3 of 21 from distance and commit 22 turnovers, 13 by Quinnipiac.
The Zags led 37-29 after a sluggish opening 20 minutes.
Collins scored all eight of his first-half points in the span of 3 1/2 minutes as GU eased in front 24-17.
The Bobcats pulled within one at 26-25, but GU reserve forward Killian Tillie’s steal and dunk fueled a late 11-0 run. The Zags misfired on their first seven 3-pointers before Perkins connected from distance.
“As the game went on we started taking care of the ball,” Few said. “When we take care of the ball we can be a really efficient offense, but we’ve shown throughout practices and scrimmages when we don’t take care of it we’re just not very good.”
The Bobcats scored the last four points to close within eight at the break. The difference was primarily at the free-throw line where Gonzaga, taking advantage of 12 minutes in the bonus, hit 10 of 12 to Quinnipiac’s 3 of 4.
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