‘It’s money.’ Rasir Bolton’s smooth 3-point stroke helps Gonzaga survive late scare against Pepperdine
Feb. 18, 2023 Updated Sat., Feb. 18, 2023 at 8:38 p.m.
Gonzaga guard Rasir Bolton reacts after hitting a late 3-pointer against Pepperdine during Saturday’s West Coast Conference game in Malibu, Calif. Gonzaga held off the Waves 97-88. (Tyler Tjomsland/The Spokesman-Review)Buy a print of this photo
MALIBU, Calif. – Rasir Bolton missed the first two 3-point shots he attempted on Saturday against Pepperdine.
Perhaps the stakes at that point of the game were too low for the veteran Gonzaga guard.
Bolton has had a knack for making big shots in the biggest moments of Gonzaga’s season. The senior delivered two clutch 3-pointers inside the final 3 minutes, 23 seconds to help lift the Bulldogs to a 97-88 win at Firestone Fieldhouse.
“I just think he’s shown it over and over again, so it shouldn’t surprise any of us, should it?” GU head coach Mark Few said. … “ I think he’s got a quiet confidence about him in times like those.”
Fans will remember Bolton’s first clutch shot this season – an elbow 3-pointer that tied things late in Gonzaga’s come-from-behind win over Michigan State on the USS Abraham Lincoln aircraft carrier in San Diego.
Bolton’s outside shooting and winning follow shot rescued the Bulldogs from suffering their first WCC loss at San Francisco. The guard scored 11 of his 21 points inside the final 5 minutes at War Memorial Gym.
On Feb. 11, Bolton came up with a timely 3-pointer at home against BYU before making all six of his free-throw attempts to help secure an 88-81 Gonzaga victory.
In terms of production, Bolton hadn’t done much through the first 36 minutes in Malibu. The former Penn State and Iowa State guard, who transferred to Gonzaga last season, was 1 for 2 from the field with two points, one assist, one rebound and one turnover.
The Bulldogs didn’t trail in the second half , but the Waves were on the verge of mounting a comeback when Houston Mallette hit a 3-pointer to close the deficit to one point with 3:50 remaining.
Gonzaga’s response on the other end came on a Bolton 3-pointer from the right elbow, assisted by Hunter Sallis, to extend the lead back to four points.
“He’s just so experienced and has got so much experience in college basketball and in big moments and he’s not afraid of it at all,” GU junior wing Julian Strawther said. “He never shies away from it, and every time he shoots a big shot down the stretch, I’ve just got a feeling it’s going in.”
That feeling seems to be contagious around Gonzaga’s locker room.
Bolton gave the Bulldogs a two-possession cushion, made a layup around the 2-minute mark after Pepperdine’s Maxwell Lewis had trimmed the deficit to five points and hit a 3-pointer with 1:13 left to make it a 90-83 game.
“I just sit back and smile. I love it,” Gonzaga forward Drew Timme said. “It’s just a beautiful shot. I know it’s going in and it’s great. I don’t have to go crash the boards. I’m like, ‘It’s money.’
“It’s just nice to have a guy like that on your team you just know, you’ve got to get him open and he’ll do the rest.”
Bolton finished with 12 points, 10 in the final 4 minutes, and made 4 of 6 field goals. He was 2 of 4 from the 3-point line and 2 of 3 from the free-throw line.
Center Efton Reid III didn’t suit up for the after taking a hard fall late in the second half of Thursday’s game at Loyola Marymount.
LMU guard Kwane Marble undercut the Gonzaga sophomore as he was jumping to collect a lob from Nolan Hickman. Reid landed on his back, between Marble and the hoop stanchion, before being helped off the floor by an athletic trainer.
The LSU transfer had a bag of ice attached to his lower back/hip area when the Zags took the floor for pregame warmups.
“He didn’t practice yesterday and didn’t walk through today,” Few said.
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