Gonzaga’s double-digit lead had slipped to five when Brandon Clarke hit a putback. FSU resumed its charge and cut the deficit to four, but Zach Norvell Jr., as he’s done on a few occasions in the last two NCAA Tournaments, drilled a bit 3-pointer off a kick-out pass from Rui Hachimura. That restored GU’s lead to seven with 3:06 left and the Zags pulled away.
Clarke came up big with seven points when Gonzaga’s offense was sputtering inside the final 12 minutes. The junior forward made a free throw, a putback, two more free throws and a layup on Perkins’ lob pass that boosted GU’s lead to 67-58. Clarke finished with 15 points and Rui Hachimura added 17 as the Zags’ big men found ways to score against FSU’s tall frontcourt players.
Clarke, as usual, wasn’t only big at the offensive end. He swatted five shots and hauled down 12 rebounds, nine defensively as GU won that glass 45-36. Clarke’s ability to switch onto guards was important, too, as he slowed down point guard Trent Forrest and talented wing Terance Mann at different segments of the second half.
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