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NCAA Tournament First Round: Gonzaga survives against UNC Greensboro, 68-64

This was an ugly, entertaining first round game.

UNC Greensboro v Gonzaga Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

In their 20th consecutive trip to the NCAA Tournament, Gonzaga won its 10th consecutive Round of 64 game. But this one was a nail-biter.

Gonzaga pulled out a 68-64 win over UNC Greensboro on Thursday in Boise in a game that was in doubt until the final seconds.

Zach Norvell Jr. (15 points) scored the game’s final four points to give the Zags the lead when it mattered most. Neither team shot well from deep, and Norvell went 1-7 from behind the arc before hitting the game-winning three with 23 seconds left.

Johnathan Williams (19 points, 13 rebounds) led the game in scoring and rebounding to pick up his 15th double-double of the season.

UNC Greensboro’s full-court press slowed Gonzaga’s high-octane offense early, forcing the Zags into seven first-half turnovers. Gonzaga’s defense was right there with the Spartans’, too. UNCG takes a lot of threes, but today the Spartans missed their first 13 shots from behind the arc. Gonzaga struggled from deep itself, making just five of 23 for the game.

It was a terribly ugly game.

That actually led to an entertaining game. Gonzaga led by as many as 12 points, but never really managed to pull away. Francis Alonso (16 points) came alive in the second half and sparked the Spartans’ comeback. At the final TV timeout of the game, with 3:23 to play, it was tied 60-all.

The 13 seed Spartans took a two-point lead with under two minutes to play against the 4 seed Bulldogs. Suddenly, the pro-Gonzaga crowd in Boise had turned and was in full panic mode.

But then a mishap on a lob, a brick off the side of the backboard, and an offensive foul on three straight possessions stalled the Spartans. Josh Perkins (16 points) hit a two to tie it before Norvell Jr. knocked down the biggest three of his career.