Utah, Gonzaga Move on in Denver
The 11th-seed Gonzaga Bulldogs pulled off a mild surprise with a 68-52 victory over sixth-seed Seton Hall Thursday in the NCAA Tournament first round in Denver.
Gonzaga advanced past the first round for an eighth straight year. Domantas Sabonis scored 21 points and grabbed 16 rebounds.
Head coach Mark Few said, “I’m just really, really proud of our guys. We fought. We fought. We were able to withstand a couple different runs there, withstand some pretty serious foul trouble.”
A 13-1 run over a seven minute stretch in the first half put the Bulldogs in control. They led 35-25 at half. The Pirates got within six points, at 54-48, with just under seven minutes left, but the Zags scored the next eight and pulled away.
Gonzaga limited Seton Hall to 32 percent shooting in the game and held a 48-34 advantage on the glass.
The Pirates hung around thanks to 20 Gonzaga turnovers which led to 16 points for Seton Hall. Isaiah Whitehead and Derrick Gordon scored 10 points apiece to pace the Pirates.
Gonzaga will face third-seed Utah Saturday night at the Pepsi Center.
The lone Mountain West team in the NCAA Tournament is one and done. The 14th-seed Fresno State Bulldogs lost to the third-seeded Utah Utes 80-69 Thursday.
Utah pushed out to a 12-3 edge early. Their advantage grew to 15, before the Utes led 33-22 at the break. Fresno State crafted a 15-3 run and took their only lead of the game, at 48-47, with 10:32 left. It lasted 33 seconds. Utah responded with a 19-2 spurt and won by 11.
Both teams shot over 60 percent in the second half.
Bulldogs head coach Rodney Terry said, “(I) thought they came out and played the way they played down the stretch and showed how they were able to finish in second place in the PAC-12. They competed at a very high level.”
The Utes had four players score in double figures. They were led by Jakob Poeltl with 16 points and 18 rebounds. Utah shot 54 percent from the field and out-rebounded the Bulldogs, 38-15.
Utah head coach Larry Krystkowiak said, “I think in overview, turnover-wise was an Achilles’ heel for us… We shot a high percentage… I thought we got a lot of contributions from guys overall and were pretty good defensively.”
Utah advances and will face Gonzaga in the second round Saturday night.
Fresno State was led by MW Player of the Year Marvelle Harris with 24 points. The Bulldogs shot 49 percent. They hung around thanks to 20 Ute turnovers, which led to 28 points.
Harris summed up the growth of the program over his career.
“We came a long way. We didn’t just want to make the tournament, we wanted to win, of course, but we came a long way. I’m proud of the program, players, coaches, community. We showed a lot of grit and toughness this season.”
Fresno State concludes their season at 25-10.