Tillie, Norvell lift No. 15 Zags over No. 25 Creighton 91-74
SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) Gonzaga freshman Zach Norvell Jr. missed all five of his shots in the first half.
He didn’t miss many in the second half.
Norvell scored all 21 of his points in the second as No. 15 Gonzaga rallied to beat No. 25 Creighton 91-74 on Friday night.
”Staying aggressive. Staying positive,” Norvell said of his turnaround, which helped Gonzaga erase a 7-point halftime deficit. ”The coaching staff told me to keep shooting.”
Norvell made 4 of 5 3-point attempts in the second half, and added six rebounds and three assists.
”He had a huge game tonight,” said Killian Tillie, who led Gonzaga with 22 points. ”He was making crazy shots.”
Silas Melson had 21 points and Johnathan Williams added 15 for Gonzaga (7-1).
”A great, great win,” coach Mark Few said. ”There was a tremendous response from our guys after the half, especially on the defensive end.”
Creighton led 44-37 at halftime, after shooting 58 percent. But the Bluejays were outscored 54-30 in the second half as their shooting percentage dropped to 37.9 while the Zags were making better than 62 percent of their shots.
Marcus Foster had 21 points for Creighton (5-2), which has already beaten No. 20 Northwestern and No. 23 UCLA and lost to No. 22 Baylor this season. Khyri Thomas added 18.
Gonzaga went on a 20-4 run to open the second half and built a 57-48 lead. Creighton had five turnovers during the run.
Consecutive 3-pointers by Norvell put Gonzaga up 63-53.
Norvell hit two more 3s to push Gonzaga’s lead to 81-71 with less than 5 minutes left. Gonzaga gradually extended the lead.
”Our plan was to attack the rim,” Creighton coach Greg McDermott said. ”But we went away from that in the second half.’
”For 20 minutes we were really good,” McDermott said. ”We were locked in defensively and executing offensively.”
The first half was nip and tuck for most of the 20 minutes. Creighton hit four consecutive 3-pointers late in the first to take a 34-29 lead.
Gonzaga made a run, but the Bluejays scored the last five points to take a 44-37 lead. They shot 58 percent in the first half, including 7 of 14 on 3-pointers, before cooling off in the second. Foster had 15 first-half points for Creighton.
The teams, both from Jesuit universities, have not played since 1977 and this is their first meeting in Spokane.
Gonzaga is 183-17 in the McCarthey Athletic Center since it opened in 2004.
”It’s hard to get and keep momentum in a building like this,” McDermott said of the noisy Kennel.
Gonzaga has held 64 consecutive opponents under 50 percent from the field, dating to 2015. Creighton shot 48.3 percent for the game.
Gonzaga won the rebound battle 36-27, led by Killie’s eight.
Creighton: The Bluejays were playing their fourth ranked team in five outings. Their schedule appears to get easier going forward, as they have five consecutive home games against unranked opponents. The Bluejays, of the Big East, came in averaging 92.5 points per game, 10th in the nation.
Gonzaga: This figured to be the best non-conference home game on the Bulldogs’ schedule. Gonzaga has six players averaging at least 10 points per game. Starting guard Corey Kispert did not play because of an ankle injury.
Creighton hosts North Dakota on Tuesday.
Gonzaga plays No. 4 Villanova, another Big East team, at Madison Square Garden in the Jimmy V Classic on Tuesday. ”We need to rest up and start gearing up for that one,” Few said. ”That’s a great program with unbelievable toughness and resolve to win.”
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