SAN DIEGO – Jalen McDaniels and Matt Mitchell each finished with 15 points as San Diego State started hot and held on late to complete the 72-70 upset of No. 12 Gonzaga on Thursday.
Zach Norvell Jr. finished with a game-high 22 points on 9 of 18 shooting for Gonzaga (10-3), which couldn’t overcome a sluggish offensive start and 16 turnovers.
Trey Kell added 14 points, including going 8 of 10 from the free-throw line, to help the Aztecs (8-3) outscore the Zags 30-16 in bench points.
Gonzaga’s backcourt combo of Silas Melson and Josh Perkins had one of their worst games of the season as a duo, scoring just 13 points on 4 of 19 shooting and a combined eight turnovers. Both players also fouled out near the end of the game.
Gonzaga finished with a better shooting percentage (42.4) and 3-point percentage (31.0) than San Diego State, but also committed seven more turnovers and took nine fewer free throws than the Aztecs.
The loss is also the first true road defeat for the Zags since February 2016 at SMU – snapping a Division I best 12-game road winning streak. It was also San Diego State’s first home win against a ranked opponent since it downed No. 25 Utah in 2014.
Gonzaga will now turn its attention to West Coast Conference play, when it hosts Pacific at 6 p.m. on Dec. 28.
Final – San Diego State 72, Gonzaga 70: Bulldogs can’t overcome sluggish start, poor shooting and turnovers as San Diego State completes the upset.
Gonzaga starting guard combo of Perkins, Melson finish 4 of 18 shooting for 13 points and eight turnovers.
This is also the Bulldogs first true road loss since last season at SMU (12 straight wins since).
Hachimura finishes with 13 points for the Zags, but was the only bench player to take a shot. Gonzaga had also been averaging 92 points per game coming into this contest.
1:06 – San Diego State 64, Gonzaga 60: Mark Few takes a timeout as the Zags miss another chance to cut into the SDSU lead. This one will come down to a few big shots from the Bulldogs and needing the Aztecs to cool off from the line (15-18).
2:11 – San Diego State 60, Gonzaga 58: Five straight points from Melson have the Zags back within striking distance once again as SDSU takes a timeout. Bulldogs also over 40 percent shooting for the first time this game.
Rui Hachimura quietly having a nice game off the bench as well for the Zags with 11 points on 4 of 6 shooting and four rebounds.
2:31 – San Diego State 60, Gonzaga 55: Bulldogs make the switch to the full-court press, forcing SDSU into rushed looks and shot-clock violations.
Shots starting to drop for the Zags finally, but they’re bailing out the Aztecs with easy fouls on the defensive end – sending the home side to the line for plenty of free-throw attempts.
3:59 – San Diego State 54, Gonzaga 49: Tempers starting to flare up as San Diego State’s McDaniels is hit with a technical foul after a few choice words with Johnathan Williams.
More bad news for Gonzaga though as Tillie picks up his fourth foul chasing a loose ball.
Another massive dunk from Williams gets the Zags bench on their feet as he now has a double-double with 12 points and 15 rebounds.
As he’s done all year, Norvell finding his second-half stride. The freshman is now at 16 points, but the Zags can’t quite get over the hump as SDSU still holds the slim lead.
Both teams shooting in the mid-30 percent range from the field, with the Zags hitting just 22 percent from deep.
7:55 – San Diego State 46, Gonzaga 39: Jalen McDaniels up to 11 points off the bench for San Diego State as the Aztecs have begun to pull away again. Outside of a Norvell 3-pointer to get him to 12 points, the Zags can’t buy a bucket.
Williams up to 14 rebounds for the Bulldogs, which have had no trouble cleaning up SDSU’s misses. Similar situation to the North Dakota game on Saturday in which the Zags struggled to score and hold on to the ball.
Perkins’ struggles also continuing – he’s now 1 for 6 with six turnovers.
The Aztecs are also looking for their first ranked win at home since 2014 against No. 25 Utah.
11:35 – San Diego State 35, Gonzaga 34: Zags really using their length on defense to get into the passing lanes. They’ve now forced seven San Diego State turnovers.
Bulldogs also up to nine blocks – the last couple being sent into the stands.
Gonzaga though can’t get anything going on offense, as plenty of good looks are going in and out. Bulldogs yet to take a lead in this one, despite having plenty of chances.
Tillie still leading the way for Gonzaga with a game-high nine points. No player has hit double figures yet. Gonzaga has not scored in the last 3:14, SDSU in the last 3:40.
15:38 – San Diego State 33, Gonzaga 32: Bulldogs making a point of going inside often this half, as Johnathan Williams throws down a thunderous dunk. Perkins finally drains a 3-pointer as the Zags look to establish an inside-out game.
Gonzaga doing a good job protecting the rim on defense as well, as Tillie records his game-best fourth block of the night.
Zags go into the U-16 media break on a Norvell 3-pointer to get back within one of the Aztecs. Norvell now with a team-best nine points.
Halftime – San Diego State 25, Gonzaga 23: Bulldogs held San Diego State without a field goal over the final seven minutes of the half, but half-court offense was a struggle for the Zags in the first 20 minutes.
Tillie leads the way for the Bulldogs with seven points, while Mitchell is still stuck on eight for San Diego State.
Fitting end to the half for Gonzaga – which is wearing its alternate black uniforms – as Josh Perkins misses a deep 3-pointer at the buzzer. The junior guard was 0-4 in the first half and 0-3 from deep.
Gonzaga shooting 33 percent from the floor and 17 percent from 3-point range, while San Diego State is hitting only 28 percent from the field. Gonzaga also outrebounding the Aztecs 24-20, but have committed nine turnovers to San Diego State’s five.
3:18 – San Diego State 24, Gonzaga 21: Gonzaga finally hits from deep as big men Johnathan Williams and Killian Tillie knock down back-to-back treys.
Gonzaga doing a better job on defense after the fast SDSU start. The Aztecs have dipped under 40 percent from the floor, but are still making 40 percent of their tries from deep.
Bulldogs are winning the rebounding battle over the Aztecs 19-15
7:53 – San Diego State 22, Gonzaga 13: Rough start for Silas Melson, as the Gonzaga guard is just 1 for 6 from the field for two points. Bulldogs shooting around 30 percent from the floor, compared to 40 percent from San Diego State.
Mitchell still the game’s leading scorer at eight points. This is the third game in less than a week for the Bulldogs, and its showing a bit in the early going.
11:27 – San Diego State 16, Gonzaga 10: Dream start for San Diego State as the Aztecs have hit four early 3-pointers.
Matt Mitchell leads the way for the Aztecs with six points.
Gonzaga missed its first six shots before starting to find its groove. Killian Tillie and Zach Norvell Jr. with four points each for the Bulldogs.
Gonzaga ice-cold from range in the early going, missing its first six 3-point attempts.
Players from both teams likely exhausted as there was no break in the action since the tip.
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