It was a unique stat line, even for Gonzaga’s Drew Timme.
The points (22), rebounds (seven) and assists (four) were pretty close to Timme’s season averages. His four steals equaled his career high.
Then look a little closer at the fouls drawn category (nine), including eight in the first half, and it might have been Timme’s biggest contribution to GU’s 77-60 victory over Washington.
Washington, which recently lost backup center Franck Kepnang to a season-ending knee injury, saw 7-foot-1 starting center Brandon Meah go to the bench with his second foul in the first 4 minutes. Freshman Jackson Grant, who was expected to redshirt until Kepnang’s injury, was pinned with his second foul near the midpoint of the half.
Keion Brooks Jr., an athletic 6-7 wing and UW’s leading scorer, picked up his third, courtesy of Timme, with 4:40 left in the half.
“That was an emphasis all week,” junior wing Julian Strawther said. “I feel like we can get the ball to Drew, he can get those bigs out of there. Unfortunately, one of their bigs went down in the last game. We knew they were light at the position.
“If we can give Drew the ball and he can (hit them) with three pump-fakes and get two quick fouls, they wouldn’t have any more answers the rest of the game and it worked to perfection.”
Gonzaga led 36-26 at halftime and held an 11-2 edge in attempted free throws. Of Washington’s 10 first-half fouls, eight came trying to defend Timme, who made five free throws, scored 13 points and helped GU expand its lead in the closing minutes.
“Foul trouble, going to the foul line, that was a big part of the game,” Washington coach Mike Hopkins said. “Drew Timme is as good as it is when he gets the ball in the paint. We didn’t do a good enough job of keeping him out … and that’s what happens.”
Timme kept delivering in the second half, whether it was scoring in the lane or distributing three assists that created eight points – two 3-pointers by Strawther and a dunk by Anton Watson – as Gonzaga opened up a 50-37 advantage.
Timme finished 6 of 11 at the foul line. The Huskies made 7 of 9 compared to GU’s 14 of 21.
“We take that kid for granted,” Zags assistant coach Brian Michaelson said. “He had 22 and seven again. I talk about it, people are probably sick of hearing about it, nine drawn fouls. Meah is a legit shot-blocker. He’s a big kid in the middle of that zone. Drew picked up those fouls. Maybe we weren’t scoring, but that sent (Meah) to the bench. Grant got a couple (fouls) and they had to put Brooks in there and that’s part of what helped us on him.
“You look at that stat line and it’s out of this world, but his ability to draw fouls is like nothing I’ve ever been around and it’s a big part of our offense.”
Slowing down Brooks
When Gonzaga runs into a talented opposing big, there’s a good chance Watson will get the defensive assignment. Brooks is Washington’s main offensive threat at 16.6 points per game, but the Kentucky transfer endured a rough first half.
He had three turnovers and missed his only two shot attempts. Brooks scored his first points on a putback of his own miss on Washington’s first possession of the second half, but he soon went to bench with four fouls, the fourth a charging call drawn by Watson, with 14:37 remaining.
“Honestly, we were just trying to help, help off him,” said Watson, who did a solid job last month on Kentucky’s Oscar Tshiebwe, the reigning national player of the year. “He doesn’t really have too many assists, but we know he’s an aggressive driver and wants to get to the rim.”
When Brooks tried to penetrate, Gonzaga guards, particularly Rasir Bolton, provided help and forced a few of his six turnovers.
As Gonzaga’s lead grew, Washington had no choice but to put Brooks back in. The senior finally heated up, hitting a pair of 3s and finishing with 14 points, but the Zags’ lead never dropped below 10 points.
“They’ve got good size,” Hopkins said. “We maybe have to get (Brooks) a little deeper to create some more opportunities for him. Anton Watson, I’ve watched him since he was in high school (at Gonzaga Prep). He’s a good man-to-man defender, he plays good position and he’s strong. They did a good job on (Brooks), and when he tried to make a move, they were always coming over to help and they took a few balls from him on his spin (move).”
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