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Gonzaga Basketball

Gonzaga’s slow start shows on the glass before cleaning up in second half

Gonzaga forward Johnathan Williams (3) beats South Dakota State guard Reed Tellinghuisen (23) to a rebound during the second half of Thursday’s game. Williams led Gonzaga with 14 rebounds. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)

SALT LAKE CITY – The Zags struggled on the glass against South Dakota State in their first-round victory in the NCAA Tournament on Thursday.

The Zags closed out the first half trailing in rebounds. The Jackrabbits outrebounded GU 22-21 behind SDSU’s Skyler Flatten’s seven rebounds.

The Zags stepped up on loose balls off the rim in the second half. They had 29 rebounds after the half, 21 on the defensive end.

GU held the Jackrabbits to only four offensive rebounds in the second half. SDSU, which is 16-1 this season against opponents they outrebounded, finished with 38 rebounds, 12 less than the Zags.

“We knew they were going to shoot 3s and the ball was going to bounce out long,” junior guard Johnathan Williams said. “Their guards were able to get those balls in the first half. In the second half, we were able to get those long rebounds out.”

Gonzaga has been outrebounded four times this season, the largest margin being against Washington in December. The Huskies pulled down 54 boards in that game, as opposed to Gonzaga’s 42, but Gonzaga won by 27 points.