Joel Ayayi had 21 points and seven rebounds to lead the No. 1 Gonzaga Bulldogs past the No. 11 West Virginia Mountaineers 87-82 Wednesday night in Indianapolis.
Corey Kispert and Andrew Nembhard each had 19 points to boost GU, which powered through a slow-start from top scorer Drew Timme, a first-half injury to point guard Jalen Suggs and a physical West Virginia frontline.
Timme finished with 17 points after scoring just three points on 1-of-9 shooting in the first half.
Suggs, the Bulldogs star freshman, left the game midway through the first half after hurting his lower left leg. Gonzaga (3-0) led 20-19 at that point.
The Mountaineers (3-1) went on a run after Suggs exited and took their largest lead, 33-24, before the Zags rallied back behind 3s from Nembhard and Kispert.
West Virginia was led by starting forwards Oscar Tshiebwe, Gabe Osabuohien and Derek Culver.
Culver paced WVU with 18 points and 15 rebounds. Tshiebwe had 14 points and nine rebounds, but fouled out with 7:30 left. Osabuohien also fouled out after scoring 10 points.
Timme and forward Anton Watson fouled out for Gonzaga. There were 48 fouls called in the game. West Virginia went 27 of 33 from the free-throw line, Gonzaga shot 15 of 21.
West Virginia led 39-34 at the half after Gonzaga shot just 37.1%.
The Zags trailed 45-42 when Suggs checked back in with just under 16 minutes to play. They went on a 7-0 run taking the lead on a Timme basket off an assist from Suggs.
Gonzaga took the lead for good with just over six minutes to play when Watson found Timme in transition for a layup that put GU up 69-67.
West Virginia held the rebounding edge 41-36 and powered in 16 second-chance points to Gonzaga’s eight.
The Zags showed their speed in transition, racking up 25 fast-break points. West Virginia had just four.
Nembhard filled in at the point for Gonzaga after Suggs left the game. The transfer from Florida added six assists and five rebounds in a team-high 35 minutes.
15:00 – West Virginia 9, Gonzaga 6: Slow start for the Zags as they missed their first four shots of the game.
The Mountaineers came out aggressive on the offensive glass as well, grabbing either an offensive rebound or forcing a GU foul on their first three misses. WVU has four offensive rebounds.
WVU has attempted four more shots than the Zags, with the difference in score being a 3-pointer by guard Miles McBride.
Guard Jalen Suggs leads Gonzaga with four points. Drew Timme is 0-for-3 shooting.
11:54 – West Virginia 14, Gonzaga 11: The Mountaineers defense continues to hound the Zags, who have shot just 5 of 14.
WVU guard Miles McBride leads all scores with six points on two 3-pointers. West Virginia is 6 of 17 from the field.
Gonzaga’s Corey Kispert scored his first points of the game with a transition 3. Jalen Suggs leads Gonzaga with four points and three rebounds.
8:00 – Gonzaga 20, West Virginia 17: A 9-0 run sees the Bulldogs take their first lead of the game.
Gonzaga has turned up the intensity on defense, mixing in a 1-2-2 3/4-court trap in with its half-court man-to-man to force four turnovers and hold the Mountaineers scoreless over the last 3:45.
Corey Kispert has six points to lead the Zags.
3:31 – West Virginia 33, Gonzaga 24: Terrible moment for Gonzaga as freshman point guard Jalen Suggs has to be helped off the court after suffering a lower left leg injury.
Suggs was driving towards the basket and when he went to stop his feet slipped out from under him and he immediately grabbed at the back of his left leg. He appeared to be in pain as the medical staff tended to him.
West Virginia has surged back in front behind an 8-0 run as the Zags haven’t made a field goal in 2:22.
Gonzaga is shooting just 1 of 8 from 3-point range and 34% overall.
Miles McBride leads WVU with eight points. Corey Kispert has seven to lead GU.
West Virginia 39, Gonzaga 34: Miles McBride and Oscar Tshiebwe each have 10 points to pace the Mountaineers, who lead the poor-shooting Bulldogs by five.
Gonzaga is shooting 37% and just 3 of 11 from 3-point range. Joel Ayayi leads the Zags with nine points. Corey Kispert and Andrew Nembhard have each added seven.
Forward Drew Timme, GU’s leading scorer coming into the game, is 1-of-9 shooting for three points. He also has two fouls.
The Mountaineers went on a run after Suggs exited and led 33-24 before the Zags started chipping away at the lead behind 3s from Nembhard and Kispert.
West Virginia has outrebounded GU 24-19, led by Tshiebwe’s eight. WVU has grabbed seven offensive rebounds that it has turned into nine second-chance points. GU has just four second-chance points.
The Mountaineers are shooting 38% and have made 3 of 7 3-pointers. McBride is 2 of 2 from 3.
Gonzaga is 5 of 8 from the free-throw line, West Virginia is 10 of 10.
15:53 – West Virginia 45, Gonzaga 42: Four points for Joel Ayayi to start the half has GU within 3.
Ayayi has 13 points to lead all scorers.
Already seven fouls called in the half – four on West Virginia, three on the Zags. WVU’s Oscar Tshiebwe, who has 10 points and nine rebounds, and GU’s Corey Kispert, seven points, picked up two quick fouls in the half. Both players, with three fouls each, were subbed out.
14:13 – Gonzaga 49, West Virginia 45: Jalen Suggs re-enters the game and the Zags rip off a 7-0 run.
Suggs left the game in the first half with a lower leg injury.
11:26 – West Virginia 54, Gonzaga 51: WVU’s Sean McNeil makes his first basket of the game, a 3-pointer break a 51-51 tie.
Gonzaga guard Jalen Suggs has one assist, one foul and a missed shot since checking back in the game.
West Virginia is 2 of 5 from 3-point range this half, Gonzaga is 0 of 1.
7:26 – Gonzaga 65, West Virginia 62: Drew Timme has found his shooting touch and has 13 points for the Zags.
Timme has 10 points on 4-of-5 shooting this half. Gonzaga is shooting 66.7% in the second half.
Foul trouble is haunting West Virginia as leading scorer Oscar Tshiebwe has fouled out. He finishes with 14 points and nine rebounds. WVU forwards Gabe Osabuohien and Derek Culver have four fouls each. Both teams are in the double bonus.
3:22 – Gonzaga 78, West Virginia 73: Joel Ayayi is making his mark doing the little things, producing a couple of offensive rebounds and a steal to help spark the Gonzaga offense.
Ayayi has 19 points on 9-of-14 shooting, six rebounds and four assists.
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