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Gonzaga Basketball

Johnathan Williams was the Best in the West

Gonzaga forward Johnathan Williams (3) slaps hands on the bench after scoring and being fouled during the second half of the Bulldogs’ win over Xavier on Saturday. (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)

SAN JOSE, Calif. – Johnathan Williams elevated his play with each successive NCAA Tournament game and on Saturday was named the Most Outstanding Player of the West Region.

Williams scored 19 points on 8-of-12 shooting in Gonzaga’s 83-59 win, was the game’s leading rebounder with eight, blocked three shots and had two steals. He attempted one 3-pointer and made it, scoring as a slasher to the basket the rest of the game but only turning the ball over once.

His three blocked shots are tied for the second-most in an NCAA Tournament game in school history.

“He did a lot around the rim,” said Xavier coach Chris Mack. “His damage today for the most part was three feet and in, offensive rebounds, post-ups, tip-ins, finishing at the bottom of the zone against our zone.”

The junior, who transferred from Missouri and redshirted last season, had a similar impact in GU’s narrow win over West Virginia in the Sweet 16. Williams scored 13 points on just seven shots in the 61-58 win, again connecting on his only attempt from beyond the arc.

Williams had six points and 14 rebounds in GU’s win over No. 16 seed South Dakota State in his team’s tournament-opener. He also shut down Jackrabbits forward Mike Daum, the No. 2 scorer nationally (25.1 ppg). Daum scored 17 points in GU’s 66-46 win, and coach Mark Few guessed about five of them came while being guarded by Williams.

He scored eight points in the team’s second-round win over Northwestern.

Williams was joined on the West Regional All-Tournament team by two teammates, Jordan Mathews and Nigel Williams-Goss. Williams-Goss leads the Zags in points (62), assists (14) and steals (8) during the NCAA Tournament. Mathews has been the team’s most productive outside shooter, connecting on 11-of-32 3-pointers.

J.P. Macura and Trevon Bluiett from Xavier rounded out the honorees.