SPORTS

Unbeaten Zags keep rolling with 83-65 rout of Creighton

Mar 28, 2021, 4:34 PM
Gonzaga guard Joel Ayayi (11) reacts to a play against Creighton in the first half of a Sweet 16 ga...
Gonzaga guard Joel Ayayi (11) reacts to a play against Creighton in the first 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)
(AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Gonzaga guard Andrew Nembhard believes he still has room to improve.

The scary part is, he thinks that also might be true for the undefeated Zags.

Nembhard had 17 points and eight assists, both season highs, to keep the NCAA Tournament’s top overall seed rolling with Sunday’s 83-65 rout of fifth-seeded Creighton in the West Region semifinals. Afterward, he insisted nobody was satisfied.

“I don’t think we have peaked,” he said. “I think, as I said earlier, we can always get better. We can always work on our stuff. So I think we’re getting close, and we need to squeeze out that five percent that we talked about.”

It’s hard to imagine the Bulldogs (29-0) could play much better.

They extended their school-record winning streak to 33, the Division I record for consecutive double-digit wins to 26 and reached the Elite Eight for the fourth time in six years. Next up is Tuesday’s West regional final against either sixth-seeded Southern California or seventh-seeded Oregon, and if Gonzaga continues playing with the same balance it has shown throughout the season, it will be hard for either opponent to stop the Zags short of the Final Four.

Some of Gonzaga’s usual stars were content with supporting roles Sunday.

Second-team All-American Drew Timme led the way with 22 points, six rebounds and four assists as the Zags shot 59.6% from the field against a foe that led the Big East in defensive field goal percentage. Joel Ayayi added 13 points and eight rebounds.

First-team All-American Corey Kispert scored 12 points and Timme’s fellow second-teamer Jalen Suggs finished with nine.

Defensively, the Zags held Creighton to 40 points over the final 30 minutes as they methodically turned a 27-25 game into a blowout. Gonzaga never trailed, led 43-33 at halftime and spent most of the second half pulling away.

The Bluejays (22-9) never really had a serious chance at advancing to the Elite Eight for the first time since 1941, when the NCAA Tournament only gave out eight bids.

“They just play so fast, so efficient with everything they do,” said Marcus Zegarowski, who led Creighton with 19 points. “There are no lapses. You just can’t take, not even a play, you can’t take a second off or they’re going to make you pay.”

Denzel Mahoney added 13 points for Creighton.

Gonzaga extended its advantage to 20 points on Suggs’ layup with 11:22 to go. That just about finished off Creighton as the Zags moved within three wins of becoming the first undefeated national champion since Indiana in 1976.

“I’m just telling you: We’re not hung up on the undefeated thing at all,” coach Mark Few said. “We’ve got to go undefeated from here on out. We’ve got to go 3-0 if we want to win the championship, which that’s been our goal all along. But nobody’s talking about the overall undefeated thing at all.”

BIG PICTURE

Creighton: The Bluejays reached their first Sweet 16 since 1974 but didn’t have nearly enough against a foe on a clear mission. They were simply overwhelmed by the Zags over the final 30 minutes.

Gonzaga: The Zags have won their first three tournament games by a combined 77 points.

UNFRIENDLY HINKLE

Big East teams haven’t found Hinkle Fieldhouse to be any friendlier as a neutral court than it is when they play Butler each season.

Villanova and Creighton both lost here this weekend by double digits, and it might have been disconcerting for the Bluejays to hear the public address announcer saying things like “Bulldogs 3-pointer” when Gonzaga made a shot from beyond the arc.

Syracuse, which played in the Big East during the league’s glory days, also lost at Hinkle on Saturday.

FALLING SHORT

On Thursday, Creighton coach Greg McDermott said the Bluejays couldn’t rely on defense to beat Gonzaga. They needed to score.

When they didn’t, the result was predictable.

“You have to score to play with Gonzaga. We just didn’t score enough,” McDermott said. “Obviously the start of the second half was huge for us. We really felt like for us to have an opportunity, we had to win that first four-minute timeout. Instead they were able to take that lead from 10 to 14 and then it’s an uphill battle against a team like that.”
___
More AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/College-basketball and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25

Today’s Top Stories

Sports

Special Olympics Unified soccer teams compete for championship....
Waverly Golden

Special Olympics Unified soccer teams compete for state championship title

This afternoon Utah’s top 16 Special Olympics Unified soccer teams competed for the state championship title at the RSL soccer stadium.
3 days ago
Team owner Dell Loy Hansen and Utah Royal players. Photo: Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News...
Adam Small

Former Utah Royals owner and coach named in women’s soccer abuse investigation

The former Utah Royals were named in a report alleging that the National Women's Soccer League has contributed in abuse of players.
4 days ago
NWSL...
David Close and Eric Levenson, CNN

Investigation finds systemic abuse, misconduct within women’s professional soccer

The report was based on more than 200 interviews and reveals the National Women's Soccer League failed to provide a safe environment for players.
4 days ago
The Cottonwood Colts football team  (Courtesy of Deseret News)...
Chandler Holt

Cottonwood High School wins football game in bizarre fashion

There are over 14,000 high school football teams in the United States. Cottonwood High School's game against Jordan had an ending you probably haven't seen before.
5 days ago
Hurricane Tropical Storm Sally...
Amanda Dickson

Hurricane days were like snow days

For those who have spent time in Florida, like KSL NewsRadio's Amanda Dickson, hurricane days are much like snow days here in Utah.
9 days ago
Aaron Lowe...
Waverly Golden

One year since the passing of Utah football player Aaron Lowe

A year ago, University of Utah defensive back Aaron Lowe was fatally shot in a Sugar House neighborhood following a house party.
12 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Young woman receiving laser treatment...
Form Derm Spa

How facial plastic surgery and skincare are joining forces

Facial plastic surgery is not only about looking good but about feeling good too. The medical team at Form Spa are trained to help you reach your aesthetic outcomes through surgery and through skincare and dermatology, too.
large group of friends tohether in a park having fun...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

What differentiates BYU’s MBA program from other MBA programs

Commitment to service is at the heart of BYU’s MBA program, which makes it stand out among other MBA programs across the country.
a worker with a drill in an orange helmet installs a door in the house...
Price's Guaranteed Doors

Home improvement tip: Increase the value of your home by weatherproofing doors

Make sure your home is comfortable before the winter! Seasonal maintenance keeps your home up to date. Read our tips on weatherproofing doors.
Curb Appeal...
Price's Guaranteed Doors

How to have the best of both worlds for your house | Home security and curb appeal

Protect your home and improve its curb appeal with the latest security solutions like beautiful garage doors and increased security systems.
A paper reading IRS, internal revenue service is pictured...
Jordan Wilcox

The best strategies for dealing with IRS tax harassment | You have options!

Learn how to deal with IRS tax harassment. This guide will teach you how to stop IRS phone calls and letters, and how to handle an IRS audit.
spend a day at Bear Lake...
Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

You’ll love spending the day at Bear Lake | How to spend a day at Bear Lake

Bear Lake is a place that needs to be experienced. Spend a day at Bear Lake.
Unbeaten Zags keep rolling with 83-65 rout of Creighton