NCAAB: Julian Strawther’s big game lifts No. 3 Gonzaga past No. 14 GCU

Julian Strawther scored a game-high 28 points and grabbed 10 rebounds as third-seeded Gonzaga pulled away in the second half of an 82-70 victory against No. 14 Grand Canyon in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament’s West Regional on Friday night in Denver.

Drew Timme added 21 points for the Bulldogs (29-5), who will play the winner of Friday’s late game between 11th-seeded Arizona State and sixth-seeded TCU on Sunday. Anton Watson also had a double-double with 14 points and 11 rebounds.

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Ray Harrison led the Lopes (24-12) with 20 points, Chance McMillian scored 16 and Gabe McGlothan had 11.

The Zags used a 16-0 run in the second half to pull away, taking a 64-42 lead with 9:54 left, as GCU went scoreless for more than 6 1/2 minutes.

Gonzaga led just 40-36 at halftime.

Bulldogs coach Mark Few said, “As I walked into the locker room (at the break), Drew was talking to guys about, ‘Hey, now the jitters are out of the way and now we’ve got to play.’ I thought we came out, certainly for that first 15 minutes in the second half, and we got back to the plan.”

Overall, Gonzaga shot 53.6 percent from the field (30 of 56) and was 7 of 15 from 3-point range. Grand Canyon shot 43.1 percent (28 of 65) and was 9 of 24 from long distance. The Zags had a big edge at the free-throw line, going 15 of 19 while the Lopes were just 5 of 7.

The Zags out rebounded Grand Canyon 39-25 and had a 40-26 advantage in points in the paint as well as 11-4 in fast-break points.

Gonzaga led 40-36 after a back-and-forth first half as Strawther scored 16 points.

The Zags scored the game’s first seven points, forcing Grand Canyon coach Bryce Drew to call a timeout less than two minutes in.

After Gonzaga extended the lead to 10-2, the Lopes went on a 10-0 run — capped by back-to-back 3-pointers from Walter Ellis and McMillian — to pull ahead.

Grand Canyon was up 28-21 before the Zags responded with an 8-0 run to regain the lead.

Timme made a layup with 1:52 left in the half to put the Zags up and he then assisted on Strawther’s 3-pointer that made it 38-34.

–Field Level Media

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