Top-seeded Gonzaga rallies in 2nd half to beat Memphis 82-78
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Drew Timme gathered his Gonzaga teammates at midcourt, pointed at the scoreboard showing a 10-point halftime deficit for the top overall seed and expressed a few choice words.
Timme’s goal was to spark his teammates with words. He did it with his play on the court, too.
Or as Memphis coach Penny Hardaway said, “the Drew Timme effect came into play.”
Timme scored 21 of his 25 points in the second half, and Gonzaga rallied from a 10-point halftime deficit to beat No. 9 seed Memphis 82-78 on Saturday night in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
Trailing at the half for only the fourth time this season, Gonzaga leaned on its star junior to reach its seventh straight Sweet 16. The Bulldogs (28-3) will face No. 4 seed Arkansas in the West Region semifinals on Thursday in San Francisco.
“What I said was, no matter what happens, no matter what the score is, win or lose, this could very well be the last 20 minutes of basketball you ever play, and go out with no regrets,” Timme recalled.
That was the G-rated version. But his point was made and the Bulldogs responded.
Andrew Nembhard added 23 points, Rasir Bolton scored 17 and Gonzaga never trailed after a basket from Timme and Bolton’s 3-pointer with 10 minutes remaining that made it 61-57.
Timme made 10 of 16 shots and grabbed 14 rebounds.
“The way we came out fighting in the second half I thought it was more who we are,” Gonzaga coach Mark Few said. “And then we just did a great job down the stretch executing all our late game stuff.”
Memphis (22-11) didn’t go away despite Gonzaga’s surge. The Tigers pulled even at 66 on DeAndre Williams’ basket. After Nembhard’s 3 put the Bulldogs up 76-69, the Tigers still made it a one-possession game with 32 seconds left on Lester Quinones’ 3-pointer.
Nembhard, the only consistent free-throw shooter for Gonzaga on the night, made four at the foul line in the final 25 seconds.
“We hung in there long enough. But we couldn’t get the shots, we couldn’t get the stops, and they did,” Hardaway said.
Williams scored 14 points for Memphis but sat a big chunk of the second half with foul trouble. Tyler Harris had 11 of his 13 points in the first half and Quinones finished with 10.
The matchup between future NBA lottery picks Chet Holmgren of Gonzaga and Jalen Duren of Memphis never fully materialized because of foul trouble. Duren finished with seven points and seven rebounds but played just 19 minutes and sat for more than 10 minutes of the second half after picking up his fourth foul.
Holmgren had nine points, nine rebounds and four blocks before fouling out in the final seconds.
For a while, Memphis looked willing and able to spoil what was essentially a Gonzaga home game a 6-hour drive from its campus. Memphis dominated the latter stages of the first half and built a 41-31 lead at the break as nervous energy filled Moda Center.
“We knew we could go out there and play with those guys,” Williams said. “The crowd got into it, they were very resilient. They played together. They were poised. And like coach said, they showed us the bar.”
Timme erupted to start the second half, scoring the first 11 points for the Bulldogs and in the process helping land Duren and Williams in foul trouble. Timme knocked down a 3-pointer, hit a pair of tough jumpers and scored on a slick baseline reverse to erase a big chunk of Memphis’ halftime lead.
From there, he got help from Bolton and Nembhard. The trio combined for 42 of Gonzaga’s 51 points in the second half.
“I just want to step up for my team in those types of moments,” Nembhard said. “I know they have ultimate confidence in me, coaching staff has ultimate confidence in me so I just want to step up and make those kinds of plays for us.”
Timme became the third player to have back-to-back games of at least 25 points, 10 rebounds and 60% shooting in the past 30 NCAA Tournaments. Shaquille O’Neal in 1992 and Blake Griffin in 2009 were the other two.
Memphis: The Tigers’ season started with high expectations and ended with an impressive showing against Gonzaga. The Tigers are likely to look far different next season with Duren expected to head to the NBA. Fellow freshman Emoni Bates could follow.
Gonzaga: Free-throw shooting continues to be a major concern for the Bulldogs. Gonzaga went 13 for 24 at the line after going 16 for 30 in the first round against Georgia State.
“These guys have all had better nights than they had at the free throw line,” Few said. “They didn’t shoot them very well down here. Thank God we have Andrew.”
The Zags will face the Razorbacks in the round of 16. The last time Gonzaga failed to reach the Sweet 16 was in 2014 as a No. 8 seed.
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