June 14, 2024

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Gonzaga Bulldogs

Gonzaga Bulldogs: Zags 360 – 3 games and a big drop

Gonzaga Bulldogs
Julian Strawther, Gonzaga Bulldogs (photo by Steve Cheng via Flickr).

The Gonzaga Bulldogs participated in the Phil Knight Legacy Tournament in Portland. Gonzaga won two games but lost one, which dropped them to 14th in the AP Top 25 poll.

The Gonzaga Bulldogs traveled to Portland, Oregon, to participate in the Phil Knight Legacy tournament. However, it was much more than this tournament at stake.

Gonzaga Bulldogs (102) vs. Portland State Vikings (78)

The Gonzaga Bulldogs had a great first half and, at halftime, led the Vikings 51-33. Gonzaga was winning but not taking care of the ball.

Although they had fewer turnovers than usual in this game, and because they got the win, this game doesn’t negate the fact that there were glaring mistakes made.

Part of the problem lies in the point guard’s hands. Since Andrew Nembhard’s departure, Coach Few seems to need some coaching to get his sophomore guards to the floor general level.

Malachi Smith led all Bulldogs with 23 points and 5 rebounds, shooting 9 of 12 from the field and 5 of 5 from beyond the arc. A sensational game from the wonder transfer from Chattanooga.

Drew Timme was next with 18 points and 6 rebounds, but he was four of eight from the free-throw line.

Rasir Bolton and Hunter Sallis combined for 26 points and 14 assists. The Bulldogs had six players in double figures.

Gonzaga Bulldogs (66) vs. Purdue Boilermakers (84)

This game was a heartbreaker. Not only because the Gonzaga Bulldogs lost but how they lost. In the first half, the Zags couldn’t buy a three, or a point in transition. No Bulldog went to the free-throw line. How?

Zach Edey, that’s how. The 7’4″ Edey is a cross between Chet Holmgren and Paolo Banchero with three extra inches in height. Drew Timme described him as such,

“He’s a moose. He just camps out down there. He’s strong. He knows how to use his body. He knows how to get to his hook and it’s kind of just like, you have to put your hands up and hope he misses it.”

Unfortunately, Edey didn’t miss much. Purdue outscored the Zags 51-38 in the second half.

After the break, threes started to drop for Gonzaga. And at 17:22, a Bolton three bought them within one at 36-35. That was as close as the Zags would get.

I refuse to keep beating the same drum—ball handling, turnovers, free throws. But you have to get close enough for those things.

Gonzaga shot 75% from the free-throw line. Sounds good? They shot 3 of 4. Four free throws in 40 minutes! On the other hand, Purdue went to the line 22 times, making 16 of their free throws. That was the biggest difference.

The Bulldogs had only three players in double figures. Timme led the way with 22 points on 10 of 16 shooting. The Gonzaga frontcourt had a total of 11 rebounds. In this game, it doesn’t matter who shot what. The Gonzaga Bulldogs lost, and all they could hope for was third place.

Gonzaga Bulldogs (88) vs. The Xavier Musketeers (84)

This was a great game. A heart-thumping battle to watch down to the wire. I’d rather have it like this than a game where the Zags lead by 30 but are sloppy with the ball with double-digit turnovers and as many fouls.

The hero of the game was Julian Strawther. He led all double-digit Zags with 23 points. Ten of those in the final four minutes of the game. Xavier coach Sean Miller had this to say about Strawther,

“I tip my cap. I watched him as a high schooler in Las Vegas and what he’s become as a player is a testament to Gonzaga and their staff. And it’s really a tribute to Julian.”

Timme and Anton Watson followed Strawther with 16 points, Hickman had 14, and Bolton 13. The team as a whole had 23 assists.

When Xavier opened a 71-63 lead with 6:23 left in the second half, the Bulldogs responded with an 8-0 run tying the game. The lead went back and forth several times before it ended with the Gonzaga win.

With this win, the Bulldogs finished the tournament in third place, so they didn’t return to Spokane home empty-handed.

Gonzaga Bulldogs 2022-23 Basketball Schedule with Updated Times and TV

What’s next?

On Friday, December 2. the Gonzaga Bulldogs travel to Sioux Falls, South Dakota, to take on Baylor at the Sanford Pentagon.