No. 12 Gonzaga hopes to not be listless against IUPUI
Maybe it was a finals week hangover.
No. 12 Gonzaga figured to waltz past overmatched North Dakota on Saturday. Instead, the Zags found themselves trailing by nine with less than five minutes to play.
The Bulldogs bailed themselves out with a late 25-5 run that spanned the end of regulation and turned back the Fighting Hawks in overtime, 89-83.
Gonzaga (9-2) will get another game that looks like a tune-up when they host IUPUI on Monday in Spokane, Wash.
“I’d rather play bad and get a win,” Gonzaga senior forward Johnathan Williams told The Spokesman-Review after the win, “than play good and lose.”
The McCarthey Athletic Center, missing most of its famous student section after the finals, was subdued for most of the game.
Zach Norvell Jr. hit a 3-pointer to start a 13-0 run that gave Gonzaga a 68-64 lead and woke up the crowd.
“They did a nice job of putting themselves in position to win,” Zags coach Mark Few said. “We had a couple guys that had some fight in them, that finally made some plays and turned up the heat and the Kennel got going. We were lucky that game was at home.”
Norvell, a freshman, has averaged 20 points a game over the Bulldogs’ past five games, making himself a key part of the rotation. On Saturday, he added seven rebounds, four assists and five steals.
North Dakota became just the second team to shoot better than 50 percent from the floor this season against Gonzaga.
“We were over-helping a lot, leaving their guys open for 3s,” Norvell said. “But we’ll watch film and get it together.
“This is college basketball — things happen. But we have to back to the drawing board to fix a few things before Monday’s game.”
IUPUI doesn’t have far to travel after playing 75 miles down the road on Saturday at Washington State in Pullman.
The Jaguars (2-7) have just one win over a Division I opponent — 67-61 over Morehead State on Nov. 21 — this season.
Senior forward Aaron Brennan leads IUPUI in scoring at almost 13 points per game, but he has struggled of late.
Brennan has scored in double figures just once during the Jaguars’ current five-game losing streak.
Ron Patterson, IUPUI’s leader in 3-point shooting, equaled his career high with 19 points in Saturday’s 72-59 loss to the Cougars.
“I think guys are still trying to figure out how to play alongside each other and figure out their roles. We lost our top three players from last season, so that left a major void and guys are still trying to figure out how to fill those voids,” IUPUI coach Jason Gardner said, according to the school’s website. “It’s a long season and we talk a lot about continuing to get better and better every day and be playing our best basketball as we get into league play.”
IUPUI is 0-16 all-time against ranked teams.
The Jaguars will play just their second home game in a month when they host Indiana University-Kokomo, an NAIA school, on Friday.
The Zags have just one more nonconference game — on Thursday at San Diego State — before beginning West Coast Conference play on Dec. 28 against Pacific.