In the aftermath of its loss to Saint Mary’s in the championship game of the WCC tournament, West Region No. 1 Gonzaga faced some questions regarding its worthiness as a one-seed. Mark Few’s team landed on the top line, and Thursday night the Bulldogs made program history in an 87-49 win over No. 16 Fairleigh Dickinson in Salt Lake City.
The 38-point margin is the largest for Gonzaga in its NCAA tournament history, and the Bulldogs removed any doubt early. Gonzaga scored 18 of the game’s first 22 points, and it would take a 53-17 lead into the intermission. In the second half the WCC regular season champions led by as much as 42, overwhelming an FDU team two days removed from the first Division I tournament win in program history.
All-American forward Rui Hachimura led the way for the Bulldogs offensively, as he scored a game-high 21 points (8-for-15 from the field) while also grabbing eight rebounds. Fellow starter Brandon Clarke added 14 points, nine rebounds and three blocked shots, and Zach Norvell added 11 points, seven assists and five rebounds.
The blowout also provided Killian Tillie, who’s been limited by injuries throughout the season, with the opportunity to get going offensively. Tillie scored 17 points and grabbed four rebounds, leading the way for a bench that scored a total of 33 points. Geno Crandall tallied ten points off the bench for Gonzaga, which will play either No. 8 Syracuse or No. 9 Baylor on Saturday.
Mike Holloway Jr. and Elyjah Williams scored ten points apiece to lead the way for FDU, which shot just 30.0% from the field and 6-for-21 from beyond the arc. Guards Jahlil Jenkins and Darnell Edge combined to score 14 points on 3-for-19 shooting from the field.