In tonight’s first semi-final, Gonzaga (29-4, 18-1) got off to a hot start against an over-matched San Francisco (18-15, 9-10) team. The Zags hit their first 16-of-20 shots, including 6-of-8 three-pointers, took a 42-22 lead with six minutes remaining in the first half and coasted to a 88-61 win.
Killian Tillie connected on his first nine shots, 10-of-11 overall including 5-of-5 from deep and scored 26 points to help Gonzaga to the win. Redshirt freshman Zach Norvell Jr. hit 4-of-8 three-pointers and added 14 points for the Zags. Sophomore Rui Hachimura came off the bench and contributed 17 points in 20 minutes of action. 6-10 Johnathan Williams added 10 points and 10 rebounds.
USF had no answer for Gonzaga’s offense. This game got away from the Dons quickly. Gonzaga shot 18-of-28 (64 percent) in the first half, 53.3 percent for the game and made 12-of-26 (46.2 percent) three-pointers. They held the Dons to 36.7 percent shooting and only 5-of-22 from deep.
Hachimura looks to be the top NBA prospect that we saw tonight. He’s a legitimate 6-8, athletic, very long and has a nice looking offensive game especially his shot. While he hasn’t had success shooting from deep this year, he’s hitting over 83 percent of his free throws and looks good from mid-range. He’ll develop into a decent three-point shooter in time. There was a contingent of Japanese media at the game following Hachimura, who has a American father and a Japanese mother.
The second game of the night between St. Mary’s and BYU was much more competitive. BYU (24-9, 12-7) was trying to get revenge for two regular season losses to St. Mary’s (28-5, 16-3), one in overtime. They succeeded in a hard-fought 85-72 victory over the Gaels. The first half was closely contested with BYU taking a 41-37 lead into halftime on a three-pointer by 6-8 sophomore Yoeli Childs. Childs led all scorers with 18 points at the half. 6-1 Jordan Ford kept the Gaels in the game with 15 points and five rebounds at the half. Both teams shot well with BYU hitting 60 percent of their shots and St. Mary’s 52 percent. There were 13 first half lead changes.
BYU came out in the second half and took a 45-37 lead on a dunk by Childs. The Gaels stayed close, using 6-11 Jock Landale more effectively in the second half. Landale, who came into the game averaging over 20 points and 10 rebounds only scored six points in the first half as the Cougars effectively double-teamed him. Landale got loose enough in the early part of the half to score eight of the Gaels’ first ten points. St. Mary’s cut the lead to 55-54 but then BYU went on a 12-point run helped by another three-pointer from Childs and an old-fashioned three-point play by Dalton Nixon.
Childs was extremely impressive scoring a game-high 33 points on 13-of-18 shooting to go along with six rebounds. He was 3-of-3 from deep. Elijah Bryant added 25 points for the Cougars. BYU shot an impressive 60.4 percent in the game. Ford led the Gaels with 27 points and six rebounds. Landale added 17 second-half points to finish with an efficient 23 points on 13 shots but only grabbed four rebounds.
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