Gonzaga’s starting point guard averaged just seven points per game last season, but Nembhard nearly doubled that number in the first half, scoring 13 points on 6-of-7 shooting. Nembhard scored his first points on a short jumper off the glass before getting his first 3-pointer to fall. The Ontario native scored in transition on consecutive UCLA turnovers midway through the first half to make it 33-10. Nembhard finished with 24 points, his most since transferring to Gonzaga and one shy of his career high, while adding six assists and five rebounds. Nembhard was 9 of 13 from the field and 4 for 4 from the free-throw line.
Foul trouble kept Holmgren on the bench for a long stretch in the second half, but he had a significant impact in his 28 minutes on the court. He was a big reason the Bruins only scored 30 points in the paint and finished 24 of 69 from the field. In Holmgren fashion, the freshman had a show-stopping sequence early in the second half when he met 6-foot-10, 255-pound UCLA center Myles Johnson at the rim, blocked the senior’s shot off the glass and raced down the court with the ball in his hands, dribbling behind his back before lifting off to finish a one-handed dunk. Holmgren scored 15 points to go with six rebounds, four blocks and one steal.
The Bulldogs went blow for blow with the Bruins in last year’s Final Four – neither team able to create much separation for 45 minutes until Jalen Suggs finished things with a 40-foot buzzer-beating heave. The Bulldogs didn’t need any last-second heroics in Tuesday’s rematch. Nembhard scored on an open-court layup at the 14:09 mark, launching a 13-0 Gonzaga run that ended with Rasir Bolton knocking down a corner 3-pointer in transition to make it 29-8. During the stretch, UCLA went 4:50 without scoring, missing seven straight shots and turning the ball over twice.
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