SALT LAKE CITY –What. A. Game. Top-seeded Gonzaga escaped with a 79-73 victory against a Northwestern squad that absolutely refused to quit. The Bulldogs looked like they would blowout everybody’s tournament darling with a 38-20 halftime lead, but turnovers and missed free throws nearly doomed the Bulldogs.
But Gonzaga survived, so Gonzaga advances to the Sweet 16 in San Jose.
0:2.9 - Gonzaga will escape. GU leads by five and has FTs coming.
0:19.4 - Tillie hits two more, but a big 3-pointer by the Wildcats. GU leads 76-71.
0:39.2 - Some huge free throws for Tillie. He hits a pair to put GU up 74-66.
1:21 - Silas Melson steals and feeds Killian Tillie for an alley-oop. But Bryant McIntosh answers with a deep 3-pointer. GU up 72-66 with 1:21 to play.
Biggest difference this half? Gonzaga hasn’t scored a single point off a TO this half. Northwestern has scored 17 off the Zags’ TOs.— Chantel Jennings (@ChantelJennings) March 18, 2017
2:20 - Zach Collins coming up big here. He hits a layup on one possession and then forces Derek Pardon to foul out on the next possession. He’ll shoot two with GU up 69-61.
Pretty sure this isn’t legal pic.twitter.com/M1AEM5wzSI— Timothy Burke (@bubbaprog) March 18, 2017
3:50 - Absolutely crazy in here. Absolutely what March is all about. GU leads at the final media timeout, 67-59.
Bad technical by Collins but he is totally correct. Zach Collins put his hand through the rim to get the block. Huge moment.— Seth Davis (@SethDavisHoops) March 18, 2017
4:54 - Chris Collins was just given a technical foul for arguing that Zach Collins’ block should have been a foul. Nigel Williams-Goss hits both free throws. Huge for Gonzaga.
5:29 - Vic Law just brought the house down wit ha putback dunk. GU’s 22-point lead is down to five points.
6:00 - The Bulldogs got zero points out of a flagrant foul that gave them two shots and possession. Going to be hard to win that way. GU’s lead down to 63-56.
8:25 - Two huge 3-pointers by Nathan Taphorn have GU’s lead down to single digits. Bulldogs only lead 59-50 after leading 38-20 at halftime.
9:33 - Still a long ways away from being over here. The officials have called 18 fouls in 10 minutes, meaning there will be a lot of free throws to come. NU has cut GU’s lead to 58-47. Gonzaga has not made a field goal in 4:06.
Fourth foul on Lindsey, GU in bonus with 11:15 left. We’re going to be here a while. NU down 14— Jim Meehan (@SRJimm) March 18, 2017
11:55 - Some nervous moments for the Bulldogs in the last few minutes, but they have so far weathered the storm with big buckets of their own. Zach Collins in particular has come up big in the second half a three-point-plays on consecutive possessions. NU is hanging tough, and that’s got the crowd back into it, but GU still leads 56-39.
16:52 - Northwestern is playing with a lot of fire on defense and has already forced four turnovers this half. The Bulldogs are responding with fouls, five of them already this half. NU has cut the lead to 44-27.
18:03 Jordan Mathews opens the second-half scoring with a 3-pointer. The Wildcats respond with one of their own. 41-23 GU.
HALFTIME: Gonzaga leads 38-20 and Nigel Williams-Goss is flirting with a triple-double (14 points, six rebounds, four assists). Barring an absolutely collapse in the second half, Gonzaga will cruise to a Sweet 16 matchup against West Virginia in San jose.
Zach Collins is going to play a huge role against WVU if Gonzaga closes this out. Has played more than 20 min just 3x but that’ll change— Bryan Fischer (@BryanDFischer) March 18, 2017
First 3 by NU with 1 minute left. GU up 38-20.— Jim Meehan (@SRJimm) March 18, 2017
Nigel Williams-Goss’ line so far: 12 points (5 of 8 shooting), 5 rebounds, 3 assists.— Andy Buhler (@a_buhla) March 18, 2017
Per @ESPNStatsInfo: Gonzaga has contested 17 of Northwestern’s 24 FG attempts. The Wildcats are shooting 23.5% on those shots.— Chantel Jennings (@ChantelJennings) March 18, 2017
3:18 - Williams-Goss steal leads to a Williams-Goss dunk, which leads to a Chris Collins timeout. GU leads 32-12. Fun moment in the arena when the scoreboard showed close-ups of fans from various teams and the fans in the arena booed (BYU/Duke) or cheered (Jazz Stockton jersey/Arizona) accordingly.
3:54 - The official scorer will have to decide whether to credit Zach Collins with a block or a steal after he uses both hands to snatch a shot out of the air. Gonzaga looks like a No. 1 seed should so far, and leads Northwestern 28-12.
5:51 - After more than 3:30 without a single score, the teams are adding to their point totals once again. Williams kicked things off with an alley-oop dunk, and Northwestern answered. GU 24-10.
Gonzaga has been suffocating on defense and Northwestern is settling for 3’s (where the Cats are 0-7).— Chantel Jennings (@ChantelJennings) March 18, 2017
8:04 - It’s been more than two minutes since either team scored, but that’s not so bad for GU since they’re on a 14-2 run. Gonzaga leads 20-8.
12:15 - Zags are rolling right now, and Northwestern has had a couple iffy calls go against the Wildcats. But the Bulldogs are playing undeniably good defense and hitting some shots. GU 16-6.
13:46 - The Northwestern defense is being very physical with Zach Collins when he rolls to the rim (nobody wants to be on the wrong side of an alley-oop). The officials notice and call a foul. It’s going to be a lot harder for the Wildcats if the officials don’t let interior contact go. GU up 13-6.
15:08 - First media timeout. GU leads 11-6 after a torrid first few minutes. Silas Melson checks in for Williams-Goss and Collins will give Karnowski a breather.
15:16 - Nigel Williams-Goss with that old-time fadeaway J and then an alley-oop to Williams. NU answers with a deep jumper and a fastbreak layup to tie it at 6. Then Goss scores again. Then Mathews hits a 3. Lots of action right now.
18:30 - Gonzaga plays good defense but gives up an offensive rebound and putback. Williams answers with a hook shot on the opposite end. 2-2.
GU starters: Williams, Mathews, Williams-Goss, Perkins, Karnowski. Northwestern: Law, Pardon, Lindsey, McIntosh, Lumpkin— Jim Meehan (@SRJimm) March 18, 2017
2:21 p.m. - We’re about to start. The Zags have huddled at midcourt and are bouncing up and down while humming the tune to Seven Nation Army by the White Stripes.
2:13 p.m. - More like VillaNOva, amirite?
1:58 p.m. - Yesterday, I asked Mark Few a question about the hostile crowd last time GU was in Salt Lake City. He bristled at the question, denying ever using the word “hostile.” Sorry, Mark. What you actually said, when asked if he would like to return to SLC, was “If they want to do that crap they did last time, no.” Either way, there is a lot of purple and white in the arena right now, so the Bulldogs better be ready for a road atmosphere.
1:32 p.m. - Overheard in the stadium: “Karnowski looks so much bigger on TV.” We may have found the one person in America who saw the 7-foot-1, 300-pound center and was disappointed by his lack of size.
1:29 p.m. - Tipoff has been pushed back to 2:25 p.m. to accommodate the TV folks. Tell your domestic life partner to use the extra 10 minutes to squeeze in another chore.
12:48 p.m. - Hello again from the City By The Big Salty Lake. We’re still about 90 minutes from tipoff, and the teams have yet to take the floor. But did any of you happen to catch that Notre Dame-West Virginia game this morning? If the Zags beat Northwestern today their reward will be that vicious Mountaineers full-court press. I, for one, cannot wait to see what sorts of dentist-based metaphors Jim Meehan and John Blanchette come up with to describe it.
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