Fourth-seeded Gonzaga (32-4) is back in the NCAA basketball tourney’s Sweet Sixteen for a fourth consecutive season following a 90-84 victory over fifth-seeded Ohio State Saturday night in Boise. Zach Norvell Jr.’s career-high 28 points and 12 rebounds made him the first Zags player in their tourney history to have a game of 25+ points and 10+ rebounds.
The Zags, who lost the tourney’s championship game a year ago to North Carolina, next week in Los Angeles play the winner of Sunday’s second-round game between the West Region’s No. 1 seed, Xavier, and No. 9 Florida State.
The Zags opened the game with a 15-0 run that looked like they were in for a breather, in contrast to their harrowing game Thursday against No. 13 North Carolina-Greensboro, a slowdown 67-64 win that was mostly decided at the 21-second mark on a Norvell three.
But the Buckeyes, who didn’t score for more than five minutes, came thundering back from a 44-33 halftime deficit, taking a 67-62 lead inside six minutes behind Keita Bates-Diop (28 points) and Kam Williams (19). But the rally seemed to drain the Buckeyes (25-9), who lost to Gonzaga 83-59 in an early season tournament game.
Behind a rally led by Rui Machimura, who had 25 points, five assists and four blocks, filling in for the Bulldogs’ foul-plagued Johnathan Williams, the Zags streaked again, 11 consecutive points to regain control. Williams had just nine points in 19 minutes.
Norvell hit six of 11 threes, which proved critical because the rest of the Zags were 3 of 11 behind the arc, and as a team from the free throw line were 19 of 31. Gonzaga won the rebound fight 39-25, including 13-8 offensively.