SEATTLE — One glance at the shot clock told Killian Tillie there was no choice. He had to launch the jumper 30 feet from the basket.
When the shot left Tillie’s hand, it felt just like a normal 3-point attempt, even if he was almost closer to half-court. And the result? ”
“It felt good. It was cash,” Tillie said.
The senior forward hit the key 3-pointer as the shot clock expired with 2:55 remaining and finished with 15 points, Joel Ayayi hit another 3 with 24 seconds left that served as a capper, and No. 9 Gonzaga held off No. 22 Washington 83-76 on Sunday night.
Control of the in-state rivalry remained on the east side of the state as the Bulldogs (10-1) could never pull away but made the key plays in the closing minutes to hold off the young Huskies (7-2). Gonzaga has won six straight in the series, with Washington’s last win coming in 2005.
It was a fun, loud, exciting night where Washington’s home arena roared in hope of the Huskies mounting a comeback. But every rally was stemmed and it was the Gonzaga fans yelling and cheering at the end.
“It was just a great college basketball game. Big shot after big shot. Big play after big play,” Gonzaga coach Mark Few said.
Except it was the Bulldogs who made more of the big plays and especially the big shots.
Tillie and Ayayi were two of the heroes on a night the Bulldogs put five players into double figures. Filip Petrusev finished with 17 points and 10 rebounds, Ryan Woolridge had 16 points, including two key baskets in the final 2 1/2 minutes. Corey Kispert added 15 points and Ayayi finished with 12, but none bigger than his 3 in the final minute.
“We did a really good job taking away the 3 until the end of the game,” Washington coach Mike Hopkins said.
Ayayi had just missed a 3 on Gonzaga’s previous possession, but didn’t hesitate to launch another 3 after Washington’s Nahziah Carter had missed a drive at the other end that could have pulled the Huskies within one.
“I felt really comfortable when I got the ball and somebody had to shoot it,” Ayayi said.
Isaiah Stewart led Washington with 21 points and 10 rebounds. Jaden McDaniels and Carter both added 15 points and Quade Green finished with 14.
Gonzaga never trailed after falling behind 5-4, but the lead never got bigger than nine. Every time Washington made a run, the Bulldogs had an answer.
Gonzaga took its biggest lead at 65-56 with 8:35 left when Drew Timme tipped in Woolridge’s miss. It seemed a substantial advantage after the teams spent the first 30-plus minutes never separated by more than a couple of points.
But Washington responded with a pair of free throws from Stewart and off a turnover a floater from Carter to pull back within 65-60 and force a Gonzaga timeout. Tillie stemmed the momentum with a tough basket, but Hameir Wright answered with a 3 for Washington and the lead was 67-63 with 7 minutes left.
Gonzaga pushed the lead back to 7, but Carter’s fast-break layup, followed by Stewart hustling to save a loose ball and McDaniels hitting a 3 pulled the Huskies to 72-70 with 3:51 left.
That’s when Tillie saw the shot clock winding down and launched from well-beyond the 3-point line. The 3 pushed the lead back to five and after Carter hit a 3 for Washington, Woolridge scored on consecutive possessions for the Bulldogs.
Ayayi’s 3 was the capper that sent Washington fans to the exits.
“We did a good job every time answering them,” Tillie said.
IN THE MIDDLE
Despite being a heavy focus of Gonzaga’s defense, Stewart had one of his more impressive games. The freshman was 6 of 7 shooting and 9 of 10 at the foul line. He also stayed out of foul trouble and played a season-high 37 minutes.
AGAINST THE PAC
Few improved to 39-18 all-time against Pac-12 opponents. The Bulldogs are 2-0 against the conference already this year with wins over Oregon and Washington and one more game upcoming.
Gonzaga: The matchup against Washington was the start of a mighty three-game stretch for the Bulldogs. They’ll have a nearly a week off before traveling to Arizona next Saturday and then return home to host North Carolina. Washington was the second ranked team the Bulldogs have faced.
Washington: The Huskies will lament a sloppy first-half where they committed 12 turnovers. The Huskies finished with 19 turnovers, which was two off a season-high committed. “When you’re playing a top-10 team you can’t have 19 turnovers,” Hopkins said.
Gonzaga: At Arizona on Saturday.
Washington: Host Seattle on Dec. 17.