Gonzaga avenges last year's NCAA exit with gutsy Sweet 16 win over Florida State

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Last year, Gonzaga’s season ended in the Sweet 16 at the hands of Florida State.

On Thursday, the Bulldogs ensured there would not be a repeat performance in a gutsy 72-58 win over the same Seminoles team that eliminated them last year.

With the win, Gonzaga advances to Saturday’s West regional final with a trip to the Final Four on the line. The Bulldogs will face Texas Tech after the Red Raiders’ dominant win over Michigan on Thursday night.

Zags overcome swarming ‘Noles defense

It wasn’t a vintage performance from the nation’s most efficient offense. Florida State’s halfcourt pressure extended the perimeter and forced the Bulldogs into several mistakes.

But Gonzaga was adept on the other end, preventing Florida State from taking advantage on offense.

Rui Hachimura led a balanced Gonzaga effort with 17 points and five rebounds while Brandon Clarke posted 15 points with 12 rebounds.

Zach Norvell Jr. and Josh Perkins each scored 14.

A year after losing in the Sweet 16 to FSU, Rui Hachimura and Gonzaga returned the favor to advance to the West regional final. (AP)
A year after losing in the Sweet 16 to FSU, Rui Hachimura and Gonzaga returned the favor to advance to the West regional final. (AP)

FSU had its chance

In a key second-half stretch, the Seminoles had an opportunity to cut into Gonzaga’s 55-45 lead as the Bulldogs failed to score for three minutes. But they couldn’t capitalize, going scoreless themselves in the same timespan.

Florida State threatened as time ticked down, closing the gap to 60-56 with 4:11 remaining. Trent Forrest led the comeback attempt with big plays on both ends, including this big block on Norvell Jr.

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He finished with 20 points, five rebounds, three steals and a block.

Gonzaga turns it on down the stretch

But the Gonzaga offense showed its true colors with an explosive run to close the game to secure a final margin that wasn’t indicative of how tight the game was.

As for the revenge factor? Gonzaga’s just happy to move on.

“It wasn’t about that,” Gonzaga coach Mark Few told CBS of getting revenge. “It was about us getting to play more together and move on.”

Zags win despite struggles

Florida State’s constant pressure and filling of passing lanes frustrated the normally sleek Gonzaga offense into 14 turnovers against 10 assists. The Bulldogs averaged 18.2 assists and 10 turnovers on the season.

Gonzaga hit 40.2 percent of its field goals, well below its 53.2 success rate entering the game.

But the Bulldogs frustrated Florida State even more so, holding the Seminoles to 38.7 percent shooting from the field and an equally inadequate 10-to-14 assist-to-turnover ratio.

A big difference between the teams was at the 3-point line. Gonzaga hit 7-of-19 from distance while Florida State his just 3-of-21 as it fought from behind the entire game.

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