Gonzaga knocks out Bison: Bulldogs withstand NDSU’s strong second half to take win
SEATTLE -- Too big. Too experienced. But it wasn't easy for No. 2 seed Gonzaga against North Dakota State Friday night in the NCAA men's basketball tournament.
SEATTLE - Too big. Too experienced. But it wasn’t easy for No. 2 seed Gonzaga against North Dakota State Friday night in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament.
The Bison made the Zags work for the 86-76 victory at a sold-out Key Arena and will advance to Sunday’s third round against the University of Iowa. NDSU finished its season at 23-10, but the Bison didn’t go quietly.
NDSU toyed with getting blown out at times in the first half and early in the second half, but guards Lawrence Alexander and Paul Miller led a 10-2 run that cut an 18-point Gonzaga lead to 10. Later, Miller’s 3-pointer got the Bison deficit under double digits trailing 57-48 with 11:55 remaining and Dexter Werner’s three-point play cut the margin to 57-51 at 11:13.
The partisan Key Arena throng of Gonzaga fans were getting restless.
The 6-foot-6 Werner turned in a career game finishing with 22 points hitting 10 of 14 shots, showing no fear against the likes of 7-1 Przemek Karnowski. His inside hoop with 6:02 left made it a six-point game again.
That’s when guard Kevin Pangos rescued the Zags. His four-point play and 3-point field goal, the latter with 3:50 left, made it 77-64 and the NDSU upset hopes began to fade.
Gonzaga had too many weapons - specifically 6-10 forward Kyle Wiltjer. The Bison tried putting 6-4 Kory Brown on him, but Wiltjer found down low to his liking. If NDSU put a bigger guy on him, he found the 3-point arc to his liking.
Wiltjer finished with 23 points and 8 rebounds to lead the Zags.
The Bison started like a team that meant business. Three-point buckets by A.J. Jacobson, Alexander and Brown gave them some early momentum. It was Brown’s first trey since Feb. 1.
But the Zags went on a 12-0 run midway in the first half, keyed in part by some poor Bison decisions on offense and Wiltjer’s basket and 3-point field goal. It was 24-13 with 9:44 left in the first half and a blowout alert was on in the arena.
NDSU stopped the bleeding for the most part the rest of the half, still, 10 turnovers and the 43 points the Zags put up was not the tempo the Bison wanted. It was 43-31 at the break, with NDSU getting a nice contribution from Werner off the bench with 9 points and 4 rebounds.
Alexander finished with 19 points and moved into third place on the Bison single season scoring list. Miller had all 16 of his points in the second half.