SALT LAKE CITY – Rui Hachimura scored 21 points and grabbed eight rebounds as top-seeded Gonzaga throttled No. 16 seed Fairleigh Dickinson 87-49 on Thursday in the first round of the NCAA Tournament at Vivint Smart Home Arena.
Killian Tillie added 17 points on 7 of 8 shooting off the bench for the Bulldogs (31-3), which will play either eighth-seeded Syracuse or ninth-seeded Baylor in the second round on Saturday.
The Bulldogs bounced back from a loss to Saint Mary’s in the WCC Tournament title game last week in Las Vegas, by jumping out to a 53-17 halfftime lead over the Knights (21-14). GU ended the first half on a 19-0 run.
Gonzaga shot 53.1 percent from the floor and 42.9 percent from deep, while holding FDU to 30 percent overall and 28.6 percent from 3-point range.
The Zags outrebounded FDU 47-30 and forced 17 Knights turnovers.
Brandon Clarke added 14 points and nine rebounds for the Bulldogs, while Mike Holloway Jr. and Elyjah Williams paced the Knights with 10 points apiece.
NCAA March Madness / YouTube
Final – Gonzaga 87, FDU 49: Clinical display from top-seeded Gonzaga in Salt Lake City as the Bulldogs throttle the 16th-seeded Knights.
FDU earned its first NCAA Tournament win on Tuesday in the Fist Four round, but the Zags were too much from the start tonight.
Expect a much better matchup on Saturday against either Syracuse or Baylor – two teams with Power 6-level athleticism that should be able to hang a lot closer with the Zags. No doubt GU, looks like a favorite to reach the Final Four after this showing.
Make it 11 straight first-round wins for the Bulldogs.
3:48 – Gonzaga 83, FDU 43: It’s all reserves out on the floor for the Zags right now, but the scoring hasn’t really slowed.
Great left-handed hook in the paint gets the first points of the game for Filip Petrusev. Geno Crandall up to 10 points on 4 of 5 shooting. Jeremy Jones Greg Foster Jr. and Joel Ayayi round out the five on the floor for the Zags.
Killian Tillie heads to the bench for the final time tonight. Fantastic effort from the junior, who is playing his third game after coming back from another foot injury.
FDU being led by Mike Holloway Jr.’s 10 points, but the Knights are shooting just 28.9 percent from the floor.
Great effort from Fairleigh Dickinson, but the empty gas tank, plus a great Gonzaga effort was too much to overcome.
7:27 – Gonzaga 76, FDU 40: The balance from the Zags has been excellent tonight. Rui Hachimura is getting his, as expected, but Killian Tillie’s contributions off the bench are a great sign going forward for this team
Hachimura now up to 21 points and eight rebounds, while Tillie has 17 points on an efficient 7 of 8 shooting.
GU starting to empty the bench as freshman big man Filip Petrusev gets some time, meaning Hachimura and Brandon Clarke’s nights are likely over.
11:31 – Gonzaga 68, FDU 34: Not the most memorable start to the tourney for Corey Kispert. The sophomore forward has three points and four fouls.
GU coach Mark Few sends Kispert to the bench in favor of Geno Crandall. Kispert has started all but the Senior Night game for the Zags this season, and it would be hard to imagine Few shaking up his starting lineup this late in the year – even with a healthy Crandall or Killian Tillie.
Speaking of Tillie, the junior throws down a big one-handed slam in traffic and is now up to 13 points off the bench.
Rui Hachimura with another bucket and foul to get to a game-high 17 points. Hachimura, who is one of four finalists for the Naismith Player of the Year award, took the court right after fellow nominee Ja Morrant of Murray State notched a triple-double in a first-round win.
15:48 – Gonzaga 60, FDU 25: Fairleigh Dickinson starting to find its shot in this half, but GU is safely in the too little, too late category for a Knights comeback.
Brandon Clarke paying well after the half with four quick points to get to 12 for the game. Both him and Rui Hachimura are juts a handful of rebounds away from double-doubles.
It’s also been a nice response from Zach Norvell Jr. in this one. After going 1 for 11 from the field against Saint Mary’s, the sophomore has 11 points on 3 of 8 shooting – all three makes coming from deep.
Mike Holloway Jr. and Darnell Edge pacing the Knights with seven points apiece.
Halftime – Gonzaga 53, FDU 17: Bulldogs end a top-notch first half against a tired Fairleigh Dickinson team on a 19-0 run.
Rui Hachimura dominant as expected with 14 points on 5 of 11 shooting. Team shooting 56.3 percent overall and 54.4 percent from deep, while holding Fairleigh Dickinson to 20 percent from the floor and 27.3 percent from 3-point range.
Zags outrebounding the Knights 24-15, including nine offensive boards.
Killian Tillie surges to 10 points on 4 of 5 shooting, including a pair of 3-pointers.
Brandon Clarke with eight points and four rebounds, while Zach Norvell Jr. has eight points.
Mike Holloway Jr. with five points for the Knights, which are playing their second game in three days.
3:12 – Gonzaga 42, FDU 17: Rui Hachimura already past his six-shot total from the Saint Mary’s loss. He’s up to 14 points on 5 of 11 shooting.
Zags shooting 50 percent from deep, while FDU is connecting at just a 30 percent clip from 3-point range – not exactly the formula needed to pull the 16-1 upset.
Rebounding advantage still big in Gonzaga’s favor, 20-13. Nice response from the Bulldogs after the upset by the Gaels in Las Vegas last week.
Mark Few sticking with his eight player rotation of Killian Tilie, Geno Crandall and Jeremy Jones off the bench so far. Safe to imagine some playing time for Filip Petrusev and the other reserves in the second half at this pace.
Great movement and pass from Tillie to Crandall leads to the grad transfer’s first 3-pointer of the night. GU follows that up by going right back inside Hachimua and then outside for Corey Kispert’s first points of the game.
6:39 – Gonzaga 30, FDU 11: Bit of a “hold your breath” moment for Gonzaga fans as Brandon Clarke is fouled going up for a breakaway dunk. The big man gets right back up, but misses both of his free throws.
FDU switches it up to a zone and forces a turnover on a poor pass from Jeremy Jones, but some nice hustle gets the steal right back. Zags have forced seven Knights turnovers, while only committing three.
Clarke up to eight points, while Zach Norvell Jr. and Josh Perkins have five apiece – good balance so far for GU. Rui Hachimura leading all scorers with 10 points.
Perfect description of the game so far comes right before the media timeout as Brandon Clarke grabs an offensive rebound, works the give-and-go with Rui Hachimura and finishes with the two-handed slam.
11:27 – Gonzaga 22, FDU 6: Gonzaga is just a physically better team and its showing on both sides of the court so far.
GU outrebounding FDU 13-5. Zags have also grabbed six offensive boards.
First bucket of the game for Killian Tillie is a wide-open look in the paint. GU shooting 42.9 percent from the floor, while holding FDU to 10 percent.
The Knights have yet to connect from deep, going 0 for 4 from 3-point range. FDU also into a little early foul trouble as Mike Holloway Jr. picks up his second personal. Holloway is responsible for guarding Rui Hachimura, who is up to eight points.
15:53 – Gonzaga 11, FDU 4: After taking just six shots in the WCC title loss, Gonzaga goes to star Rui Hachimura early as he hoists three shots in the first minute. The big man can;t get the first two to fall, but he’s fouled on the third. He’s up to six points.
Fairleigh Dickinson gets a couple good early looks at the bucket, but the rims in Salt Lake City have been a bit bouncy in the opening minutes.
First bucket of the game for Brandon Clarke comes on a 10-footer, followed by a Zach Norvell Jr. 3-pointer.
Bulldogs doing a great job forcing the Knights into tough looks, including some long 3-pointers that haven’t come close.
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