BOISE – Zach Norvell Jr. hit a 3-pointer with 20 seconds remaining and fourth-seeded Gonzaga avoided 13th-seeded UNC Greensboro’s upset bid with a 68-64 victory in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Thursday at Taco Bell Arena.
Gonzaga (31-4) led by as many as 12 points in the second half, but the Spartans (27-8) wouldn’t go away as their guard duo of Francis Alonso and Demetrius Troy led UNCG back into the lead with a minute remaining.
After the Zags tied the game and forced a Spartan turnover, Norvell took a pass on the left wing and drilled his second triple of the game. He finished with 15 points.
“It was a heck of a ball game… we’re fortunate to come out here with a victory,” coach Mark Few said. “My emotions are still high…I’m over here shaking.”
“I just looked at coach like ‘we got this’… we’re not done yet,” Gonzaga guard Josh Perkins said.
Johnathan Williams led Gonzaga with 19 points and 13 rebounds for his 15th double-double of the season.
Both teams struggled throughout the first half to score, as the two defenses came of the gate with the pressure on.
UNCG finished the first half 0 of 13 from 3-point range, before hitting just three in the second half to finish 3 of 22.
Gonzaga shot 42.4 percent from the floor and 21.7 percent from deep, while the Spartans finished 41.8 percent overall and 13.6 percent from 3-point range.
Both teams also finished with double-digit turnovers (13 UNCG, 10 GU), while the Spartans outrebounded Gonzaga 44-39.
Alonso and Troy finished with 16 points apiece for UNCG, while James Dickey had a double-double of 10 points and 11 rebounds.
Gonzaga moves to the second round for the 10th straight year and will face either No. 5 Ohio State or No. 12 South Dakota State on Saturday.
Final – Gonzaga 68, UNC Greensboro 64: Greensboro takes the ball down the court and Alonso is immediately called for an offensive foul.
Zags miss a pair of free throws, but UNCG can’t get the game-tying triple to fall. Norvell then fouled and makes one of two to seal the victory and avoid an impressive upset bid from the Spartans.
0:20 – Gonzaga 67, UNC Greensboro 64: Zach Norvell with the cold-blooded 3-pointer from the wing puts Gonzaga back on top. What a shot from the freshman.
UNCG ball with the shot clock turned off.
1:39 – UNC Greensboro 64, Gonzaga 62: And just like that UNC Greensboro takes its first lead since midway through the first half on a Jordy Kuiper putback.
Mark Few takes a timeout as his Zags have cooled off from the field.
3:22 – Gonzaga 60, UNC Greensboro 60: Not sure this was the opener many GU fans expected, as Greensboro is really pushing the Zags.
Four fouls on Hachimura sends him to the bench, followed by Perkins picking up his fourth foul.
This UNCG guard combo of Alonso and Troy has been so good these last 10 minutes, blowing by the Gonzaga forwards.
Both teams nearly matching FG percentage with the Zags shooting 41.8 and UNCG shooting 41.9.
Williams up to 19 points, 13 boards for GU, while Alonso has 16 points and three steals for the Spartans.
7:24 – Gonzaga 57, UNC Greensboro 54: UNC Greensboro just isn’t going away, but the Zags are working the ball really well on the inside to keep some breathing room between themselves and the Spartans.
Huge triple by Perkins puts the Bulldogs back up by double figures, but UNCG’s Alonso answers with four straight buckets to cut the lead to three.
Perkins up to 12 for GU, while Alonso has 16 and Demetrius Troy has 10 for the Spartans.
11:46 – Gonzaga 47, UNC Greensboro 42: This is turning into the Johnathan Williams show for GU as the senior forward is somehow left wide open for a big jam on a long assist from Perkins. Game-high 17 for Williams so far.
Greensboro starting to shoot the ball much better this half, keeping things at least interesting for the GU crowd. The Spartans have now hit three 3-pointers this half after making none in the first.
Dickey still leading the way for them with 10 points, while Alonso is up to eight.
Rough morning for the other GU big men as Tillie and Rui Hachimura have a combined four points.
15:44 – Gonzaga 44, UNC Greensboro 33: Already a better start for Greensboro as the Spartans finally hit a 3-pointer after missing the first 13 of the game.
Johnathan Williams continuing his strong play with a pair of quick buckets to get into double figures scoring and notch another double-double. He’s up to 14 after a strong finish in the paint.
Bulldogs doing a nice job as well on Dickey this half, as the UNCG big man hasn’t seen much of the ball and is up to two turnovers.
Halftime – Gonzaga 32, UNC Greensboro 23: Bulldogs start to turn the table on UNCG with a press of its own, resulting in some sloppy play for the Spartans.
Zags have also done a great job on UNCG guard Francis Alonso, who has just five points.
Balanced scoring in the first 20 minutes from GU, led by Kispert’s eight points. Norvell has added seven, while Williams has six points and 10 rebounds.
Bulldogs need to get off to a better start int he second half, while Greensboro will look to start connecting from deep. No doubt the Spartans have had plenty of good looks.
GU shooting 38 percent from the floor and 25 percent from deep, while UNCG is shooting 29 percent overall and is 0 for 13 from 3-point range.
3:22 – Gonzaga 23, UNC Greensboro 21: Fouls starting to add up for GU as the Spartans are already into the bonus. Killian Tillie also with two fouls as he takes a seat.
Kispert staying hot with a 12-foot jumper, but UNGC follows with a massive one-handed dunk from James Dickey.
Dickey follows up with a nice spin and finish on Williams as he’s the first player to hit double figures at 10 points.
Williams takes it right back to the rim on the other end though for two of his six points so far.
Spartans still ice-cold from deep, missing their first nine 3-pointers.
7:42 – Gonzaga 19, UNC Greensboro 13: Bulldogs take their first lead of the game on a deep Josh Perkins triple, followed by several strong defensive stops.
Kispert also drops in a nice move to the bucket and Johnathan Williams gets on the board with a thunderous alley-oop from Perkins.
UNCG finally takes a timeout on the heels of a 7-0 GU run.
Perkins and Kispert lead the way with five points apiece.
11:38 – UNC Greensboro 10, Gonzaga 8: Corey Kispert off the bench for the Zags and he hits a quick 3-pointer, but the Bulldogs still struggling to score.
On the other side of the court, GU creating some chaos for the Spartans, but Spartan shots are starting to trickle in. UNCG, a team that likes to chuck it, is also 0 for 7 from 3-point range so far.
Gonzaga up to six turnovers, compared to just one for UNCG. The SPartans are also dominating on the offensive glass, pulling down six boards so far to GU’s one.
No player has score more than three points for either team.
11:38 – UNC Greensboro 8, Gonzaga 5: Not the cleanest of starts from either team in this one as the defenses have come to play.
It also may not be as sloppy as it looks on TV, this near-vertical camera angle makes it tough to tell.
Zags already up to four turnovers against this Spartans team – which has the sixth-best defense in Division I.
Can’t remember the last team to really press Gonzaga on defense out of the gate like this. Big question is if UNCG has the depth to keep pressing for 40 minutes.
Bulldogs shooting 50 percent from the floor. Greensboro just 27.3 percent.
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