Killian Tillie scored a game-high 20 points and No. 17 Gonzaga overcame a quick start from Utah State to earn a 79-66 win Saturday at the McCarthey Athletic Center.
The visiting Aggies had the hot hand early in the first half from 3-point range, knocking down eight of them in the opening 20 minutes. The Zags adjusted in the second half though as Utah State made only three from deep.
Balanced scoring was again the name of the game for the Bulldogs (3-0), as a quartet of players finished in double figures (Tillie, Corey Kispert 12, Silas Melson 12 and Josh Perkins 11). Gonzaga also cranked up the pressure on defense, forcing 10 Utah State turnovers, while only committing three.
Sam Merrill led Utah State (2-2) with 19 points, while DeAngelo Isby added 13.
The Bulldogs will now travel to Portland for the PK80 Invitational and a 9 p.m. Thursday matchup against Ohio State. They will then play either Stanford or No. 8 Florida on Friday.
Final – Gonzaga 79, Utah State 66: The Bulldogs shake off a sluggish start – and overcome Utah State’s early hot hand – to move to 3-0 heading into next week’s PK80 Invitational.
3:06 – Gonzaga 77, Utah State 61: After a tense first half, its been all Gonzaga after the break.
Danish freshman Jacob Larsen has got on the scoresheet for the Zags in the second half, but is having more impact on the defensive end with a pair of big blocks.
Gonzaga is once again keeping with the theme of balanced scoring, with four players in double figures (Tillie, Melson, Kispert, Perkins), while Norvell Jr. is right one the cusp at nine points.
7:44 – Gonzaga 65, Utah State 57: Gonzaga’s defense is coming to play so far this half, holding Utah State to 15 points so far.
The Bulldogs have also forced 15 Utah State turnovers, while committing only three of their own.
Kispert has also joined the double-figures club at 10 points for Gonzaga.
9:05 – Gonzaga 65, Utah State 57: Melson hits another 3-pointer, his second of the game, to become the second Gonzaga player in double figures (Tillie 16).
Utah State, which has lived and died by the long ball this season, is now shooting just 31 percent from range. Gonzaga has also started to solve its issues on the glass, as both teams have now pulled down 30 boards.
11:30 – Gonzaga 60, Utah State 54: Another Utah State 3-pointer and layup cut the Gonzaga lead to one point before Tillie and Co. took back over on both ends of the court.
A nice lob and layup by the senior was followed by a slashing score and foul on Perkins and a pair of Norvell Jr. free throws to make it a 7-0 Bulldogs run.
Back in the game after a short rest though, Williams picked up his fourth personal foul with a push on a rebound attempt.
15:45 – Gonzaga 51, Utah State 47: Johnathan Williams picks up his third personal foul early in the half, giving Jeremy Jones some minutes.
Bulldogs continue to work inside on offense, and are doing a better job of limiting the Utah State 3-point chances and offensive rebounds.
Zags go into the first media timeout of the half on a big offensive board and putback by freshman Corey Kispert, which prompts a flex from the forward.
Utah State takes aim from deep in first half against Gonzaga
Utah State dominated the Gonzaga Bulldogs from distance in the first half of Saturday’s game at The Kennel.
The Aggies piled on eight 3s in the first half, compared to Gonzaga’s four – including Silas Melson’s late 3 that gave the Zags a 45-42 lead at the half. | READ MORE »
Gonzaga 45, Utah State 42: Killian Tillie scored 12 points and the Gonzaga defense has forced seven Utah State turnovers to help offset the Aggies red-hot 3-point shooting.
Sam Merrill also poured in 12 first-half points for Utah State, which hit a pair of 3-pointers early and didn’t look back for the majority of the half before the Zags retook the lead with 2:30 to go.
Gonzaga has found most of its success offensively in the paint, making 50 percent of its shots from the field. Utah State shot 47 percent in the half and 47 percent from range.
The Bulldogs also benefited from early Utah State foul trouble, as the Zags went 9 of 11 from the line.
Gonzaga leading scorers: Tillie 12, Zach Norvell Jr. 7, Josh Perkins 6, Silas Melson 5, Johnathan Williams 5.
End of first half – Gonzaga 45, Utah State 42: Utah State finishes the half with eight 3-pointers, but the Gonzaga defense takes advantage of seven turnovers to hold the slim halftime lead.
2:30 – Gonzaga 40, Utah State 39: The Bulldogs take their first lead since the opening minutes on a Melson 3-pointer with 2:30 remaining in the half.
3:49 – Utah State 39, Gonzaga 38: Utah State is liking the the looks its getting in Spokane tonight as the Aggies keep raining down 3-pointers. Six different Aggies have hit from downtown so far.
The Bulldogs are starting to find their stroke as well and still dominating in the paint and on the break to keep this one within reach.
7:54 – Utah State 31, Gonzaga 27: One game after dominating Howard on the boards, the Bulldogs are being outrebounded by the Aggies 13-8.
Utah State still shooting the ball at an impressive clip, making 55 percent from the field and 60 percent from 3-point range.
Fouls have been an early problem for Utah State though as Gonzaga will spend the rest of the half in the bonus. Tillie leads the Zags with 8 points while Merrill is up to 11 on 4-of-7 shooting for the Aggies.
11:25 – Gonzaga 20, Utah State 20: Hello, Rui.
Big alley-oop from Silas Melson to Hachimura sparks the Zags’ offense as the defense is starting to take away the deep looks for the Aggies.
Tillie and Corey Kispert lead the Bulldogs with four points each, while Utah State’s Sam Merrill leads all players with nine.
13:23 – Utah State 17, Gonzaga 15: The Aggies stay on fire from range as they’ve knocked down five early 3-pointers against the Bulldogs.
15:49 – Utah State 11, Gonzaga 6: Gonzaga’s Killian Tillie scored the first four points of the game, but Utah State has it going from deep early on as the Aggies jumped out to the quick lead.
Gonzaga announces starting five
McEwen out for Utah State
Utah State’s Koby McEwen, last year’s Mountain West Freshman of the Year, has been ruled out of Saturday’s game against the No. 17 Gonzaga Bulldogs.
McEwen left Wednesday’s 83-47 rout of Mississippi Valley State with an ankle injury. The Aggies didn’t officially sideline McEwen until hours before tipoff on Saturday. | READ MORE »
NCAA men’s basketball
At McCarthey Athletic Center, Spokane
➤ Saturday, Nov. 18: Utah State Aggies (2-1) at No. 17 Gonzaga Bulldogs (2-0), 7 p.m. PT TV: KHQ in Spokane, ROOT Sports regionally Online: wccsports.com
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