Gonzaga Remains Undefeated, Advances to Elite 8 with Win vs. Creighton

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistMarch 28, 2021

Gonzaga forward Drew Timme (2) dunks as Christian Bishop (13), Marcus Zegarowski (11) and Creighton guard Mitch Ballock (24) look on in the second half of a Sweet 16 game in the NCAA men's college basketball tournament at Hinkle Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, Sunday, March 28, 2021. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
Michael Conroy/Associated Press

No. 1 Gonzaga is headed back to the Elite Eight after an 83-65 win over No. 5 Creighton.

Drew Timme scored 22 points to help the top overall seed in the 2021 NCAA men's basketball tournament reach the West Region final. The Bulldogs shot 59.6 percent from the field to avoid any threat of an upset.

It took less than seven minutes for Gonzaga to build a double-digit lead, which became a 43-33 advantage by halftime after some battling between the two sides. The score wasn't as close in the second half as the favorites took control with what grew up to a 27-point advantage before settling in for an easy win.

Marcus Zegarowski tallied 19 points for the Bluejays, who never led while falling short of their first Elite Eight since 1941.  

It's the fourth time the Bulldogs have reached the Elite Eight in the last six tournaments, but they have even higher goals after improving to 29-0 on the season.


Notable Performances

Drew Timme, F, GONZ: 22 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists

Jalen Suggs, G, GONZ: 9 points, 6 assists, 2 steals

Andrew Nembhard, G, GONZ: 17 points, 8 assists, 4 rebounds

Marcus Zegarowski, G, CREI: 19 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists

Denzel Mahoney, G, CREI: 13 points, 5 rebounds

Christian Bishop, F, CREI: 12 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists


Efficient Gonzaga Offense Nearly Unstoppable in Win 

Creighton used a defensive strategy early to take Gonzaga's top three scorers out of the game, but it didn't go according to plan.

Joel Ayayi and Andrew Nembhard combined for 21 in the first half and 30 in the game, with Ayayi especially dangerous with his early outside shooting.

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

Joel Ayayi heating up from 3 👀 B2B threes for the Zags https://t.co/I8JjCFGbLP

NCAA March Madness @marchmadness

Joel Ayayi (3 3PM) lighting it up from deep 🎯 @ZagMBB #MarchMadness https://t.co/1fvZZ6dH9K

Ricky O'Donnell @SBN_Ricky

Joel Ayayi and Andrew Nembhard as the fourth and fifth best players on a college basketball team is completely unfair

Nembhard ended up with 17 on 7-of-9 shooting as a key part of the Bulldogs' success.

Gonzaga's stars still played well, including Drew Timme, who followed up his career-high 30 in the second round with 22 on 10-of-14 from the field Sunday.

CBS Sports @CBSSports

TIMME TIME 💥 https://t.co/DZgsr3AqvE

Dana O'Neil😷 @DanaONeilWriter

Creighton big men need to be introduced to the weight room for this game. Timme eating em up.

Jalen Suggs didn't light up the stat sheet but was certainly impactful on the floor:

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

Jalen Suggs finding his teammates early 🔥 The Zags are rolling https://t.co/AeM7yUASMM

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

Jalen Suggs with the smooth fake 😯 https://t.co/fDBTyzdhDY

Corey Kispert entered as the team's leading scorer but took just one shot in the first half and finished with 12.

There wasn't much bench production, but this game still showed the scoring depth available on the roster and how difficult it will be to defend against the Zags. 


Marcus Zegarowski Effort Not Enough for Creighton

Creighton was overmatched for most of the contest, but don't tell that to Marcus Zegarowski.

The guard came out on fire with 13 in the first half and was a major reason the Bluejays (22-9) remained competitive with impressive early play.

Rob Dauster @RobDauster

Marcus Zegarowski is out here HOOPING today.

John Fanta @John_Fanta

Marcus Zegarowski is playing the best basketball of his career in this NCAA Tournament.

Jeff Goodman @GoodmanHoops

Marcus Zegarowski has been playing out of his mind the past month or so. Does everything for Creighton. And does it so quietly. One of the best point guards in the country.

After scoring 37 points in the first two NCAA tournament games, Zegarowski stayed red-hot and was by far the biggest defensive challenge for Gonzaga.

The problem was the lack of help around him, with his teammates getting little going besides offensive rebounds.

The Bluejays finished 5-of-23 from three-point range and just 4-of-8 from the free-throw line, which isn't going to get it done against such an elite opponent.

Denzel Mahoney added 13 with a solid second half, but it wasn't enough to pull off the upset.


What's Next?

Gonzaga will now await the winner of No. 6 USC and No. 7 Oregon on Tuesday, with a trip to the Final Four on the line.


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