It was a tale of two halves in Salt Lake City, but ultimately, Gonzaga emerged with another trip to the Sweet 16, defeating Northwestern 78-73 in the Second Round of the NCAA Tournament.
The Zags jumped on Northwestern early on both ends of the floor. But in the second half the Wildcats came roaring back, by doing to Gonzaga what Gonzaga had done to them. Turnovers doomed the Wildcats in the first half, but in the second Gonzaga coughed the ball up 11 times (14 total).
In the end nether team shot the ball particularly well, Gonzaga went just 44.1% while Northwestern was 40.9%. Gonzaga’s lead, which was 22 points late in the first, proved too much to overcome in the end.
Gonzaga’s heading back to the Sweet Sixteen for the third straight season. And head coach Mark Few now has 500 career wins, all with the Zags.
Nigel Williams-Goss led the Zags with 20 points, to go along with eight rebounds and four assists. Northwestern point guard Bryant McIntosh led Northwestern with 20 points, but had five turnovers to go with his seven assists.
Vic Law (18 points, 8 rebounds) had the ball slapped away on Northwestern’s first possession. Gonzaga’s defense was forcing turnovers and deflecting passes left and right early in the game. Northwestern’s not a great offense (60th in KenPom) but Gonzaga made them look like the most inept unit in the dance.
Northwestern was held scoreless from the 16:16 to 10:30 marks of the first half. There were two media timeouts during that span.
Przemek Karnowski (9 points) picked up his third foul on the second possession of the second half. He sat for much of the game. Zach Collins (14 points) had to play most of the second half as a result.
Collins had a few big moments.
Back-to-back and-1s ended a Northwestern run. Then, Northwestern was about to cut the Zags’ lead to one possession when Collins went up for a block. Replay showed his hand went up through the cylinder. It wasn’t called.
Chris Collins ran out on the court in protest. He was issued a technical. Television cameras showed a young Northwestern fan crying.
Since most of sports media seems to have gone to Northwestern, there are probably a lot of cried-on keyboards right now.
Northwestern’s season ends at 24-12. Gonzaga improves to 34-1 and will take on 4-seed West Virginia next Thursday in San Jose.