Rui Hachimura, No. 1 Gonzaga Advance to Elite 8 with Win over Terance Mann, FSU

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistMarch 29, 2019

Gonzaga forward Brandon Clarke celebrates after scoring against Florida State during the second half an NCAA men's college basketball tournament West Region semifinal Thursday, March 28, 2019, in Anaheim, Calif. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Jae C. Hong/Associated Press

After elimination at the hands of Florida State in last season's NCAA men's basketball tournament, No. 1 Gonzaga avenged its loss Thursday with a 72-58 win over the No. 4 Seminoles.

The two battled in the Sweet 16 last year, and Florida State came away with a 75-60 victory. But 12 months later, the Bulldogs responded with a win in the same round against the same opponent. 

Brandon Clarke was the star of this contest even without the scoring he had last game. He tallied 15 points, 11 rebounds and five blocks at the Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif. Rui Hachimura helped out the scoring with 17 points to help the top-seeded squad reach the West region finals.

Trent Forrest was the leading scorer for Florida State with 20 in the loss, while Terance Mann was held to just five points on 1-of-8 from the field.

Coming into the game, the big discussion was about how Gonzaga's offense would fare against Florida State's defense. However, it was the Bulldogs' defense that shined to start the game.

Seth Davis @SethDavisHoops

Gonzaga can play a little defense too, it turns out

Rob Dauster @RobDauster

Florida State looks totally lost going against a set Gonzaga defense. That's where Gonzaga is winning this game. Don't let the ball go through the hoop and you don't have to deal with their fullcourt defense.

Florida State struggled to get anything going in the halfcourt and finished the first half with nine turnovers and just 10 made baskets. 

The half was summed up by a steal from Josh Perkins in the final seconds:

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

What a sequence from Perkins before the half 😤 #MarchMadness https://t.co/FVVFkjbnpU

With Gonzaga playing as well offensively as we have come to expect, the No. 1 seed was able to go into halftime with an 11-point lead.

This margin was a pretty good sign for the favored team:

ESPN Stats & Info @ESPNStatsInfo

(1) Gonzaga leads (4) Florida State 38-27 at the half. Gonzaga has won 43 straight games when leading at the half dating back to last season. https://t.co/MKGavJf8pw

CBS Sports HQ @CBSSportsHQ

Under Mark Few, Gonzaga is 264-1 (.996) when leading by 11+ points at halftime. https://t.co/EBeipqplyY

Mark Few was able to add to these marks thanks to a defense that held its opponent to 3-of-20 from three-point range.

The Seminoles certainly made things interesting after picking up the defensive intensity in the second half, with turnovers leading to offense:

NCAA March Madness @marchmadness

TERANCE. MANN. 🔨 #Sweet16 #MarchMadness | @FSUHoops https://t.co/NU4pIljM9P

NCAA March Madness @marchmadness

THE SEMINOLES CUT IT TO 6! 👀 #Sweet16 #MarchMadness | @FSUHoops https://t.co/VFle7bfN9v

This helped the No. 4 seed climb back into contention, cutting the lead down to four with less than four minutes remaining.

However, seemingly every time Florida State got momentum, Gonzaga was there with a big dunk to get energy back on their side:

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

SHEESH 🤭 #MarchMadness https://t.co/2PhOjAapqV

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

Perfect cut. Big finish. 💪 #MarchMadness https://t.co/gdoxL0lfNw

A clutch Zach Norvell three-pointer with 3:02 remaining then helped kickstart a 7-0 run to pull away and seal the victory.

It wasn't always pretty, but the Bulldogs matched their opponents' intensity and won the rebounding advantage 45-36 to get within one win of the Final Four. 

Christ Koumadje being in foul trouble most of the game certainly helped in this regard.

The squad will advance to the Elite Eight Saturday to take on the winner of No. 2 Michigan and No. 3 Texas Tech.