Gonzaga adds Ryan Nembhard and Graham Ike for next season

gonzaga transfers
Jamie Rhodes/USA TODAY Sports

SPOKANE, Wash. — Gonzaga’s offseason roster rebuild continued Friday with the addition of former Creighton point guard Ryan Nembhard and Wyoming forward Graham Ike.

Gonzaga announced the addition of Ike, while Nembhard announced on Instagram his intention to play for the Bulldogs. Nembhard also confirmed his decision to ESPN.

They are the second and third major additions this offseason for Gonzaga after previously adding Big Sky Conference player of the year Steele Venters from Eastern Washington.

Nembhard averaged 12.1 points, 4.8 assists and 4.0 rebounds last season for Creighton, helping the Bluejays reach the Elite Eight before losing to eventual national finalist San Diego State. Nembhard started every game of his first two seasons at Creighton, but has a strong connection to Gonzaga as his brother Andrew was a star for the Bulldogs before being selected with the first pick of the second round of the 2022 NBA draft by Indiana.

Ike averaged 19.5 points and 9.6 rebounds for Wyoming during the 2021-22 season as the Cowboys reached the NCAA Tournament. Ike sat out all of last season due to a lower right leg injury, but had been voted the Mountain West Conference preseason player of the year.

Ike will have three seasons of eligibility remaining.

“Graham is exactly the big guy we’ve been looking for and in need of for next season,” Gonzaga coach Mark Few said in a statement. “After having him up for a visit and meeting he and his mom, he’s just going to be the perfect fit for our program.”

UConn routs Gonzaga 82-54 for first Final Four in 9 years

uconn gonzaga
Stephen R. Sylvanie/USA TODAY Sports
1 Comment

LAS VEGAS — Jordan Hawkins scored 20 points and UConn overwhelmed its fourth straight NCAA Tournament opponent, earning its first trip to the Final Four in nine years with an 82-54 blowout of Gonzaga on Saturday night.

The Huskies (29-8) have felt right at home in their first extended March Madness run since winning the 2014 national championship, playing their best basketball of what had been an up-and-down season.

“The Big East Conference is the best conference in the country, so we went through some struggles,” UConn coach Dan Hurley said. “But once we got out of that league and started playing nonconference teams again, we’ve been back to that team that looked like the best team in the country.”

UConn controlled the usually efficient Bulldogs at both ends in the West Region final, building a 23-point lead early in the second half to waltz right into the final section of the bracket.

The Huskies’ two NCAA Tournament first-round exits under Hurley are now well in the rearview mirror.

“If you’re playing for him, you’ve got to play up to that standard or else you’re not going to be out there,” UConn guard Andre Jackson Jr. said.

These elite Huskies did what the UConn women couldn’t for once and are headed to Houston, where they will play either Texas or Miami.

The Bulldogs (31-6) didn’t have the same second-half magic they had in a last-second win over UCLA in the Elite Eight.

Gonzaga allowed UConn to go on a late run to lead by seven at halftime and fell completely apart after All-American Drew Timme went to the bench with his fourth foul early in the second half.

The Zags shot 33% from the field – 7 of 29 in the second half – and went 2 for 20 from 3 to stumble in their bid for a third Final Four since 2017.

Timme had 12 points and 10 rebounds, receiving a warm ovation after being taken out of his final collegiate game with 1:50 left.

Alex Karaban scored 12 points and Adama Sanogo had 10 points and 10 rebounds for UConn.

The Zags started off like they had a Vegas hangover, firing off two air-balled 3-pointers and a wild runner by Timme. Once Gonzaga shook out the cobwebs, the Bulldogs kept the Huskies bridled with defense, with hard hedges on screens and Timme sagging off Jackson to protect the lane.

UConn countered by getting the ball into the strong hands of Sanogo, the facilitator. The UConn big man picked apart Gonzaga’s double-teams for five first-half assists, including two for layups. Karaban hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer to put the Huskies up 39-32 at halftime.

It got worse for Gonzaga to start the second half.

UConn pushed the lead to 12 and Timme picked up his third and fourth fouls in the opening 2 1/2 minutes – one on a charge, another on a box-out under the rim.

The Huskies really got rolling when Timme took a seat, using their defense to get out in transition and set up 3-pointers. A 14-3 run put UConn up 60-37 and Gonzaga coach Mark Few took the calculated gamble of bringing Timme back in.

It made little difference.

UConn kept up the pressure and kept making shots, blowing out yet another opponent and looking an awful lot like the favorite to win it all.

Collins, Mississippi reach NCAA second round, beat Gonzaga

Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports

STANFORD, Calif. – Snudda Collins knew exactly how many shots she had missed, having carefully kept track of her stat lines through the Southeastern Conference Tournament: 0 for 22.

“I was in a slump,” she said.

“I did not know that, every time Snudda shoots I think it’s going in,” teammate Angel Baker said.

Collins found her groove again and scored 15 points, and eighth-seeded Mississippi once again leaned on its stingy defense to get past the first round of the NCAA Tournament this time after last year’s big disappointment, beating No. 9 seed Gonzaga 71-48 on Friday night.

The Rebels shut down one of the best 3-point-shooting teams in the country.

“Coming into this game I think I was 0 for 22 and I knew that, and I kind of took it personal,” Collins said.

Now, bring on top-seeded Stanford on its home court.

Ole Miss will face the Cardinal (29-5) on Sunday for a spot at the Sweet Sixteen in Seattle next weekend. Stanford topped No. 16 seed Sacred Heart 92-49 in Friday’s first game at Maples Pavilion.

Already tested twice by No. 1 South Carolina, coach Yolett McPhee-McCuin’s Rebels showed off their signature defense that has held opponents to just 56.8 points per game by shutting down one of the nation’s top 3-point-shooting teams. The Zags (28-5) scored a season-low points – and their only loss with fewer points was a 64-60 defeat to Portland in the West Coast Conference Tournament title game March 7.

This Ole Miss group is determined to take another step toward erasing the memory of last season’s 75-61 first-round loss to 10th-seeded South Dakota playing as a No. 7 seed and back in the tournament for the first time in 15 years.

Madison Scott had 11 points and 10 rebounds and Angel Baker added 11 points and five boards for Ole Miss, which grabbed 24 offensive rebounds.

The Rebels earned back-to-back 20-win seasons for the first time under McPhee-McCuin and it hadn’t been done since the 1993-94 and 1994-95 seasons. Making consecutive NCAA appearances for the first time since 2004-05, the Rebels held WCC Player of the Year Kaylynne Truong to six points on 2-of-9 shooting.

“As far as our defensive performance, elite. We wanted to hold them to 12 or less each quarter and we did that,” McPhee-McCuin said. “I was just in awe watching our team defend. That is who we are. We wear shirts in practice that say ‘We Defend.’”

Yvonne Ejim led the Zags with 19 points and eight rebounds but her star teammates were stymied. Gonzaga came in shooting 42% from 3-point range and Brynna Maxwell held the second-best 3-point shooting percentage in the nation coming in at 49.43%, but the team finished just 1 for 17 and Maxwell scored four points on 1-of-10 shooting missing all five of her 3s.

“Kudos to them, they guard the 3-point well,” Truong said. “Coming into the game we knew that.”

The Zags missed six straight shots spanning halftime and made a forgettable showing in their sixth straight NCAA Tournament.

“What a bummer,” coach Lisa Fortier said. “We think that we’re a good enough to compete with that team, I know that we are. My team is tough but we’re only good enough to compete today if it’s under our terms. The game was definitely played under Ole Miss’ terms.”

Ole Miss used a 9-0 run late in the first half to build a 26-16 lead as the Zags missed four straight shots. Collins’ three-point play 1:13 before halftime helped put the Rebels ahead 34-21 at the break.

A physical, defensive game, both teams took a while to find any offensive rhythm and began 7 for 22. They combined to miss the first 10 3-pointers before Baker connected at the 5:52 mark of the second quarter for Ole Miss.

The Rebels didn’t want to let Gonzaga get 50 points.

“Poetic, that’s all I can say, it was poetic,” McPhee-McCuin said of her team winning with defense.


Gonzaga: Ejim picked up her third foul with 3:52 left in the second quarter. … Gonzaga’s three seniors – Truong, twin sister Kayleigh and Maxwell – and redshirt junior Eliza Hollingsworth all announced after the final regular-season game they plan to return for one more season.

Ole Miss: The Rebels improved to 21-0 when holding teams to 60 or fewer points. … The Ole Miss bench outscored the Gonzaga reserves 33-6 and crashed the boards to hold a 51-36 overall rebounding advantage.


Ole Miss and Stanford have met just once previously, and that matchup also came on the big March stage. Tara VanDerveer’s Cardinal beat the Rebels 78-65 in the 1990 Sweet Sixteen at Stanford on the way to the program’s first national title.

Gonzaga wears down Grand Canyon 82-70 in March Madness

Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

DENVER – Slow-starting Gonzaga finally shook off the first-round jitters, then wore out Grand Canyon 82-70 behind 28 points and 10 rebounds from Julian Strawther in the NCAA Tournament on Friday.

Zags senior Drew Timme brought his sweatband and handlebar moustache back to March Madness and finished with 21 points, six rebounds and three blocks for the third-seeded Bulldogs (29-5), who haven’t lost a first-round game in the tournament since 2008.

Next up for Gonzaga is a game Sunday against the winner of a later West Region contest between TCU and Arizona State.

Like almost every Zag outside of Strawther, Timme was bottled up and frustrated in the first half, then came out of halftime and looked like a different player. After trailing by as many as seven, Timme’s three-point play gave Gonzaga a 48-40 lead early in the second half.

“As I walked into the locker room, Drew was talking to guys about ‘Hey, now the jitters are out of the way and now we’ve got to play,’” coach Mark Few said about halftime. “I thought we came out, certainly for that first 15 minutes in the second half, and we got back to the plan.”

Grand Canyon’s Ray Harrison answered Timme’s three-point play with a driving layup. After that, Gonzaga went on a 16-0 run during which the 14th-seeded Lopes (24-12), champions of the Western Athletic Conference, missed 11 straight shots and fell behind by 22.

With the game a laugher, the rowdy “Havocs,” as the Grand Canyon fans are known, turned their attention to the end of No. 16 seed Fairleigh Dickinson’s shocker over No. 1 Purdue playing on the big screen above the court.

But there was no upset in Denver.

“I told our guys ‘Eyes on the court. We don’t need another circus show going on, we’ve got one going on here right now,'” Timme said.

Harrison led Grand Canyon with 20 points and Chance McMillian had 16. Noah Baumann (eight points) made a pair of 3s during a 12-4 stretch that helped the Lopes to their seven-point lead in the first half.

Strawther, who decided to come back to Gonzaga for his junior season instead of heading to the pros, kept Gonzaga in it early. He scored 16 of his 28 in the first half.

The second half was more of a team effort for Gonzaga, which also got 14 points, 11 rebounds and a rugged defensive effort from Anton Watson that included two steals.

In the end, the game was a lot like Gonzaga’s season – slow start, better as things kept going and a chance to do more. The Bulldogs had their 75-game home winning streak snapped in January and this marked the first time since 2018 they came into the tournament as anything other than a No. 1 seed.

“I thought we were in a good place going into halftime,” Lopes coach Bryce Drew said. “But Gonzaga’s one of the best programs in the nation for a reason.”


Harrison led Grand Canyon, a fifth seed in the WAC tournament, to four straight wins and the March Madness bid by becoming the first Division I player to collect 80 points, 20 rebounds and 20 assists in a conference tournament since Kemba Walker (Big East) in 2011. On Friday, though, Harrison was bottled up. He needed 19 shots to get his 20 points, and finished with two rebounds and three assists.


This marks the 25th anniversary of Drew’s memorable game-winner, when he was a guard for Valparaiso and shot the Crusaders to a 13-over-4 upset over Ole Miss. Nobody had a chance to replicate that for the Lopes, though. Still, this was Grand Canyon’s second trip to the tournament since its move to Division I in 2017.

“I wish we could skip a lot of steps and upset a team like Gonzaga and make the Sweet 16,” Drew said, “but in a normal situation, you have to go step by step.”


With his dad, LaPhonso Ellis, sitting in the stands, Walter Ellis had nine points before fouling out for Grand Canyon. LaPhonso Ellis, the former Notre Dame star, played in Denver for the Nuggets from 1992-98.

Saxen, Ducas lead Saint Mary’s past VCU in March Madness

David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

ALBANY, N.Y. – Saint Mary’s got the pace it wanted – and another win in the NCAA Tournament.

Mitchell Saxen had 17 points, seven rebounds and four blocks, and Saint Mary’s beat ailing VCU 63-51 on Friday.

Alex Ducas also scored 17 points as the fifth-seeded Gaels (27-7) advanced to the second round for the second straight year. Logan Johnson had 12 points and 10 rebounds – part of a strong effort in the paint for Saint Mary’s – and reserve Augustas Marciulionis scored 13 points.

In a matchup of the Gaels’ more deliberate style and the Rams’ up-tempo game, Saint Mary’s controlled most of the action.

“I thought we’d beat them inside,” Saint Mary’s coach Randy Bennett said. “Both teams have good guards. It was a gritty game, and we just kind of outlasted them a little bit and got a little separation and were able to hang on.”

Ace Baldwin led VCU (27-8) with 13 points, but he hurt his Achilles tendon and groin after taking a jumper with just over 14 minutes left in regulation. The Atlantic 10 Conference Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year lay on the court for a couple of minutes before receiving treatment on the bench and back in the locker room.

VCU was down 38-34 when Baldwin left and 48-39 when he came back with 9:03 left after the Gaels of the West Coast Conference went on a 10-5 spurt sparked by a three-point play by Kyle Bowen.

Baldwin hit a jump shot after returning but left the floor for good three minutes later.

“It’s a bummer,” VCU coach Mike Rhoades said. “Your best player goes down in an NCAA Tournament game, like come on, man. But this is sports. This is competition. Things happen. You’ve still got to find ways. You’ve still got to find a way. Look, we got beat by a better team today. They played better in the second half than we did, and they won.”

Saint Mary’s held VCU to its second-lowest point total of the season. The Rams had 47 against Memphis.

“The whole second half, our message to each other was keep plugging, keep running our offense, and they’re going to break,” Saxen said. “(The injury) might have been the tipping point that broke the dam, but I think it’s a testament to our persistence and just trusting each other that we were able to just keep plugging until the water broke.”

Saint Mary’s, which held a 37-29 rebounding edge, will play No. 4 seed UConn or 13th-seeded Iona and coach Rick Pitino on Sunday.

The NCAA appearance was the first for 12th-seeded VCU since it had to forfeit a game in the 2021 tournament because of a COVID-19 outbreak. The Rams had won nine in a row.

Saint Mary’s held a 29-28 halftime lead in a rugged contest where neither team led by more than four points and tight, tough defense was the norm.


Saint Mary’s shot 3 for 17 from 3-point range and 41% (20 for 49) overall. Freshman guard Aidan Mahaney, who was averaging 14.5 points, was 0 for 5 from the field and didn’t score for the first time this season.

“Like I said before, this is the best sporting event in this country,” Bennett said. “So everybody’s watching. There’s a little pressure there. I look forward to seeing him play Sunday. He’s a good player. He got in foul trouble, and he didn’t have a great game today, but he’ll bounce back.”

VCU wasn’t much better. It only made six field goals in the second half. It shot 36.7% (18 for 48). Baldwin was its only player in double figures.


VCU: The Rams have a lot coming back, so they should be able to contend next season.

Saint Mary’s: The Gaels showed they can play defense, too.


Saint Mary’s got bounced in the second round by UCLA late year after beating Indiana by 29.

Edey, Jackson-Davis, Wilson headline AP All-America Team

Alex Martin/Journal and Courier/USA TODAY NETWORK
1 Comment

Purdue’s Zach Edey and Indiana’s Trayce Jackson-Davis gave the Big Ten Conference a third straight year with multiple first-team Associated Press All-America picks, while Kansas had a second straight first-teamer in Jalen Wilson.

The 7-foot-4, 305-pound Edey appeared on all 58 ballots as a first-team selection from AP Top 25 voters as the lone unanimous pick.

The selections of the Boilermakers’ Edey and the Hoosiers’ Jackson-Davis came a year after the Big Ten had three first-team picks. And it gave the league seven through the last three seasons; no other league has more than three.

The Big Ten has had at least one first-teamer for five straight years and eight of the last nine.

Houston’s Marcus Sasser and Alabama’s Brandon Miller joined Edey and Wilson on the first team in representing each of the NCAA Tournament’s No. 1 seeds.

Edey has commanded the national spotlight all year. The Big Ten player of the year ranks sixth nationally in scoring (22.3), second in rebounding (12.8) and first in double-doubles (26).

“Everybody goes: ‘You go to him so much,’” Purdue coach Matt Painter said after the Big Ten Tournament title win against Penn State. “If they call it by the rules, they’re fouling him on every possession. So why shouldn’t we get it to him and just try to get in that bonus early and steal points?

“Obviously he can make tough post-ups and he can get at the rim, and he gets offensive rebounds when you take him away.”

Jackson-Davis, a 6-9 fourth-year forward, is Indiana’s first first-team selection since Victor Oladipo in 2013. He’s averaging 20.8 points and 10.9 rebounds while taking a leap with his passing (4.1 assists, up from 1.9 last year).

“I probably have pushed him harder than any player on this team and I know there’s been days that he’s walked out of here thinking that, ‘Hey, is this guy really in my corner, based on how he’s pushing me?’” coach Mike Woodson said. “But at the end of the day, he’s gotten better as a player.

“We have benefited from it, you know, with our ballclub, in terms of how we played as a team. And he’s been the driving force behind it.”

Wilson, a 6-8 fourth-year forward, was a returning complementary starter from last year’s NCAA title run. He thrived in an expanded role, becoming Big 12 player of the year and nearly doubling his scoring average (20.1, up from 11.1) to go with 8.4 rebounds.

It marked the fourth time in seven seasons that the Jayhawks had a first-team pick going back to national player of the year Frank Mason III in 2017.

“He’s an elite competitor,” Iowa State coach T.J. Otzelberger said after a Big 12 Tournament loss to the Jayhawks. “He gets to the glass. He makes cuts. He makes it hard. He does so many things.”

Sasser, a 6-2 senior, was a starter on the Cougars’ Final Four team two years ago and is the star of another title threat this year. He’s averaging 17.1 points as the program’s first first-team selection since Hakeem Olajuwon in 1984 during the “Phi Slama Jama” era.

Miller, a 6-9 freshman, was a McDonald’s All-American who became an immediate star on the way to being named the Southeastern Conference player of the year. He’s averaging 19.6 points and 8.3 rebounds for the tournament’s No. 1 overall seed.

Miller has been involved in a murder case that has overshadowed the Crimson Tide’s successful run, leading to capital murder charges against former Alabama player Darius Miles and another man for the January shooting death of 23-year-old Jamea Harris. A police investigator testified last month that Miles texted Miller to bring him his gun that night, though authorities haven’t charged Miller with any crime.


Pac-12 player of the year Jaime Jaquez Jr. of UCLA was the leading vote-getter on the second team that included Kentucky’s Oscar Tshiebwe, last season’s AP national player of the year.

Gonzaga’s Drew Timme was a second-team selection for the third straight year, while Arizona’s Azuolas Tubelis and Penn State’s Jalen Pickett rounded out the second quintet.


Kansas State’s surge led to the Wildcats earning third-team selections in Markquis Nowell and Keyontae Johnson, their first AP All-Americans since Jacob Pullen in 2011.

Big East player of the year Tyler Kolek of Marquette, Iowa’s Kris Murray and North Carolina’s Armando Bacot rounded out the third team.


National scoring leader Antoine Davis of Detroit Mercy, who averaged 28.2 points and fell three points shy of tying “Pistol” Pete Maravich’s all-time career scoring record, was the leading vote-getter among players who didn’t make the three All-America teams.

Players earned honorable-mention status if they appeared on multiple voters’ ballots. This year’s list includes Memphis’ Kendric Davis, Xavier’s Souley Boum and Miami’s Isaiah Wong.