The Gonzaga Bulldogs have made it through to the Sweet Sixteen. But some teams are hungry in this tournament, and the Zags will need to pull out all the stops to win it all.
First off, the Gonzaga Bulldogs must make their free throws. Their second-round game against the Memphis State Tigers could have easily come down to their free throws. Secondly, seed numbers mean nothing this year. Fifteen seed St. Peter’s Peacocks took down the number two seed Kentucky Wildcats. And the number nine seed Tigers had our Bulldogs down ten points at the half. This tournament is serious madness.
(1) Gonzaga Bulldogs 93 vs. (16) Georgia State Panthers 72
Unfortunately, all four points in our “Four things the Zags have to improve before game 1” came to fruition. The Bulldogs were not careful with the ball causing seven turnovers and 18 personal fouls, giving the Panthers 20 points. I couldn’t believe we missed 14 free throws and shot 53.3 percent from the line. The first half had me on the edge of my seat. I couldn’t imagine the overall number one team in the tourney would go home in the first round.
The Zags did not let us down. Although the Panthers never backed down, they ran into the Gonzaga Bulldogs, led by Drew Timme! Timme took his team and put them on his back. In the second half, he scored 22 points, more than making up for the ten he scored in the first half. “My guys had my back, and the coaches believed in me. I just had confidence from them. It’s really reassuring. It really can help give you a boost when you get a little down on yourself.”
Whatever boost that was, they should always give it to Timme because he was sensational. With his 32 points, Timme had 13 rebounds. But unfortunately, he also missed seven free throws.
Chet Holmgren was next with 19 points, 17 rebounds, seven blocks, five assists, and two steals. Rasir Bolton had ten points. Andrew Nembhard, nine points, six rebounds, and 11 assists. Julian Strawther was very quiet with three points and three rebounds.
Anton Watson donated ten points, six rebounds, and one steal from the bench. Hunter Sallis was a tremendous defensive source, helping to cause foul trouble. He added five points, two rebounds, and one assist. Nolan Hickman had two points, three rebounds, and one block.
Lets talk Timme 😮💨
57pts / 62.2FG% / 27rebs / 6ast pic.twitter.com/IYpjKtChai
— Gonzaga Basketball (@ZagMBB) March 21, 2022
(1) Gonzaga Bulldogs 82 vs. (9) Memphis State Tigers 78
The Bulldogs were down ten points at the half. Drew Timme had four points as the Zags went to the locker room. Timme gathered his teammates and let them know they couldn’t go down like this, “What I said was, no matter what happens, no matter what the score is, win or lose, this could very well be the last 20 minutes of basketball you ever play, and go out with no regrets.”
It was foul trouble that also helped the Zags. Memphis’ leading players were in foul trouble early in the second half. But they never stopped coming for the Bulldogs.
Timme had 25 points, 14 rebounds, and four assists. Holmgren had an unusually quiet game with nine points, nine rebounds, and four blocks. Unfortunately, Holmgren fouled out in the last seconds of the game. Rasir Bolton had a good game with 17 points, two rebounds, and two assists. Bolton also was three of six from beyond the arc. Julian Strawther has not been himself on the floor. In this game, he had six points and seven rebounds, was 0 for six from the three-point line, and that’s Strawther’s line. Let’s hope he gets it together. The tournament only gets much harder from here.
But it was Andrew Nembhard, his five three-pointers (he was five of 10 from three), and the four crucial free throws at the end of the game that truly made the difference. Had he not made those free throws, the game would have gone into overtime. Although the Tigers were in foul trouble at the end of the game, we could not know what could have happened. The Tigers’ Lester Quinones three-pointer made it a one-possession game with 32 seconds left.
Folks might have wanted to see the duel between Holmgren and Jalen Duren. Sorry to disappoint, but both players were in foul trouble, so it wasn’t as exciting as it could have been.
What’s next is the Sweet Sixteen. It is the seventh consecutive time the Gonzaga Bulldogs have gotten to the Sweet Sixteen. This year they will go up against the four-seed Arkansas Razorbacks. So far in the tournament, the Razorbacks defeated number 13 Vermont and number 12 New Mexico State. This is what Coach Few had to say about the Razorbacks:
“Their defense is kind of what jumps out at you, right off the page. They’ve got good balance. And then watching them, they seem to have a lot of freedom, so even guys that might not statistically look like they’re shooting the ball very well, they jump right up and shoot them anyway and with confidence.”
The Bulldogs will go against the Razorbacks on Thursday, 3/24, at 7:09 pm.