A top-25 matchup in the Advocare Invitational title game just had to come down to the wire.
Gonzaga took an 18-point lead and looked dominant for much of the game, but we should’ve seen this wild finish coming from the start, as these two teams combined to hit nine of their first 10 shots.
Despite allowing a furious comeback to Iowa State, Gonzaga survived to win the Advocare Invitational championship, 73-71, Sunday afternoon in Orlando.
Point guards Monte Morris (14 points, nine assists) and Nigel Williams-Goss (18 points, four assists) showed why they’re All-American candidates for the Cyclones and Zags, respectively.
For a while, it looked like Gonzaga would run away with this one. Iowa State entered the game with the nation’s 10th-best effective field goal percentage defense (40.6 percent) per KenPom. Gonzaga lit the Cyclones up for a 77.2 percent effective field goal percentage in the first half.
Przemek Karnowski (11 points, eight rebounds) was simply too much for the undersized Cyclones early. With the Zags playing unselfish basketball, dishing out 13 first half assists, the seven-foot senior center led the way with four.
Karnowski’s size inside was balanced by the Zags’ hot shooting from deep. Gonzaga hit eight of 12 from long range in the first half to blow the game open.
The second half, though, was a completely different story. Gonzaga opened with a respectable three-of-seven shooting, with all three makes coming from long range. But Deonte Burton (29 points) and the Cyclones were red hot.
A 13-0 Iowa State run made it a five-point game point game with 13:45 left. Moments later, it was down to just one possession. At the final TV timeout, Gonzaga’s lead was just one point.
But from that point forward, the wheels fell off for both squads. Gonzaga didn’t score from the field over the final five-and-a-half minutes while Iowa State went scoreless for the final three.
The Zags typically play with two point guards, with sophomore Josh Perkins (12 points) alongside Williams-Goss. With six costly second half turnovers it looked at times as if they didn’t have a single ball-handler on the floor.
For a program known for four-year starters, unheralded recruits and elite transfers, it was a player unlike any in program history who had all the pressure in the final moments. McDonald’s All-American freshman Zach Collins (nine points) — the first recruit of that level in Gonzaga’s history — went to the line for a one-and-one, with a one-point lead and 14 seconds to play. He hit the first, missed the second, and set up one final Iowa State possession.
The Cyclones could not even get a shot off before time expired. After a 35-minute offensive display, it was the defense that got it done in the end.
The 11th-ranked Bulldogs improved to 6-0 on the season while the No. 21 Cyclones fell to 5-1. Gonzaga is now 9-0 all-time in the Advocare Invitational, having won back in 2008 and 2012.