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Gonzaga Basketball

Report: Gonzaga hosting Southland Conference runner-up Nicholls State on Dec. 18

Gonzaga Bulldogs fans cheer for their team before facing the Santa Clara Broncos during the first half of a college basketball game on Saturday, Feb. 24, 2024, at McCarthey Athletic Center in Spokane, Wash.  (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)

After facing last year’s Southland Conference champion, McNeese State, in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament, Gonzaga will host the league’s runner-up as part of its nonconference schedule next season.

Nicholls State will be one of the teams visiting McCarthey Athletic Center in 2024-25, according to’s Rocco Miller, who reported Friday the Colonels will be making a trip to Spokane on Dec. 18 – four days after Gonzaga’s marquee nonleague clash with two-time national champion UConn at Madison Square Garden.

It’ll be the first game between the two programs and becomes the first known home game on Gonzaga’s nonconference schedule after Washington, which was set to visit Spokane this fall, backed out of the final two games of a long-term series between the in-state rivals.

Nicholls State went 20-14 during coach Tevon Saddler’s first season with the school, hitting the 20-win mark for the fourth time since 2017-18. The Colonels made a run to the Southland Conference Tournament championship game before losing to McNeese State, which won 11 consecutive games before losing 86-65 to the Zags in the first round of the NCAA Tournament in Salt Lake City.

Six players from Nicholls State’s roster in 2023-24 entered the transfer portal following the season, including top scorer Diante Smith, a small forward who averaged 16.0 points and recently committed to Texas-Arlington.

Nicholls is still expected to return three other players who averaged double figures last season: forward Jamal West Jr. (13.4 ppg), guard Robert Brown III (13.8 ppg) and guard Byron Ireland (11.4 ppg).

The Colonels also reloaded via the transfer portal, adding Bradley guard Emarion Ellis, Eastern Illinois forward Sincere Malone, Prairie View A&M forward Brian Myles, Utah Tech forward Jaylen Searles, Ohio forward Ike Cornish, McNeese State guard Trae English and Gardner-Webb shooting guard Caleb Robinson.