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Sports >  Gonzaga basketball

Drew Timme adds another stellar game to NCAA resume, scores 28 points to lead Gonzaga past gritty TCU

March 19, 2023 Updated Sun., March 19, 2023 at 11:31 p.m.

Gonzaga Bulldogs forward Drew Timme (2) reacts late during the second half of a second round NCAA Basketball Tournament game against the TCU Horned Frogs on Sunday, March 19, 2023, at Ball Arena in Denver, Colo. Gonzaga won the game 84-81.  (Tyler Tjomsland/The Spokesman-Review)
Gonzaga Bulldogs forward Drew Timme (2) reacts late during the second half of a second round NCAA Basketball Tournament game against the TCU Horned Frogs on Sunday, March 19, 2023, at Ball Arena in Denver, Colo. Gonzaga won the game 84-81. (Tyler Tjomsland/The Spokesman-Review) Buy this photo

DENVER – Over the course of 40 minutes in Denver’s high altitude, Drew Timme was the Gonzaga player consistently making the hustle plays, spilling his sweat in the post and expending the energy that was needed to match the physicality and athleticism of TCU.

All to guarantee 40 more minutes in a Gonzaga uniform.

Timme went the extra mile in the Mile High City and his teammates caught up in the second half, overcoming a 10-point deficit to make sure Gonzaga’s run of Sweet 16 appearances didn’t end Sunday at Ball Arena, where the Bulldogs would make it eight in a row with a gritty 84-81 victory over the Big-12 Horned Frogs.

“That’s what it takes to win,” Timme said. “You’ve got to put it all on the line, you can’t save yourself for the next round because there could be no next round. It’s pedal to the metal every time. You can see even when we thought we won, they made it interesting at the end so it’s never over til it’s over.”

When it was finally over at approximately 8:15 p.m. Pacific Time, the Zags had extended their run of consecutive Sweet 16s, clinched their eighth 30-win season under longtime coach Mark Few and booked another postseason meeting with UCLA, the team Gonzaga beat in the 2021 Final Four on an epic overtime buzzer-beater from Jalen Suggs.

The Bulldogs (30-5) and Bruins (31-5) will play Thursday evening at T-Mobile Arena for a spot in the Elite Eight. The game will tip off shortly after the conclusion of a 4:15 p.m. Sweet 16 game between Arkansas and UConn.

“Man, we beat a really, really good TCU team tonight,” Few said. “They are athletic. They’re strong. They’re quick. They’re smart. They really move the ball extremely well. They’re very, very well-coached.

“It’s just a heck of a win, and we’re just – I’m ecstatic for these guys, to get to another Sweet 16. That’s eight in a row, which is just an incredible testament to our program and what we’ve been able to do these last eight years.”

Timme added another stellar NCAA performance to a resume that’s full of them, scoring a game-high 28 points while grabbing eight rebounds, delivering three assists and coming up with a momentum-swinging rejection in the second half.

The three-time All-American forward who’s scored 114 more points in the NCAA Tournament than anybody else in school history was under duress for 32 minutes, brushing off double-teams, fighting through arm tugs and absorbing contact almost every time he went to the rim.

It was the ninth 20-point game of Timme’s NCAA Tournament career. The Richardson, Texas, native became just the seventh player in NCAA history to join that club.

“I mean, that’s who he is and what he does. He shines on any stage actually,” Few said. “It’s not like he’s not getting 20-point games when he plays for us regularly. Listen, I think he’s the best player in college basketball. I’ve said that. I think he’s going to go down with the amount of success and the wins and all he’s been able to do. 

“I think he’s one of the greatest college players that’s ever played.”

Timme buoyed the Zags’ offense in the first half, scoring his team’s six points, and accounting for 11 of the team’s 33 points at halftime. He happily took on a variety of other roles in the second half – while still carrying much of the scoring load – dishing out two assists and pulling down six rebounds after the break.

On one occasion, Timme zipped a pass from the low-post through two or three purple jerseys finding Rasir Bolton in the corner for a 3-pointer that trimmed the TCU lead to 45-43.

Timme also connected on just his third 3-pointer of the season late in the second half, briefly hesitating before releasing from the top of the arc to extend Gonzaga’s lead to 61-55 with 8 minutes, 58 seconds to play.

“I don’t think no one was expecting him to shoot in it,” TCU guard Mike Miles Jr. said. “He hadn’t been shooting threes all game. … I feel like it swung the game in their favor, but I don’t think that’s what made them win.”

Miles Jr., an All-Big-12 Second Team guard, scored a team-high 24 points and had success both getting to the rim and drawing fouls. The explosive junior who occasionally trains with Timme in the Dallas area during the offseason was 8 of 14 from the field and 6 of 6 from the free throw line.

The Bulldogs were led by not one, but two seniors who knew they could’ve been playing their final minutes in a Gonzaga uniform on Sunday. 

Bolton had a slow first half in which he missed 1 of 7 shots and went 0 for 5 from distance, but the fifth-year shooting guard found his groove in the second half, scoring 17 points and making both of his 3-point tries.

“I work out every day, so it was just a matter of when it’s going to go in for me and just not to think about it, just to stay confident in myself,” Bolton said. 

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