Florida States Terance Mann (14) goes up to the basket against Gonzaga forward Rui Hachimura during an NCAA tournament regional semifinal game on March 22, 2018 in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Alex Gallardo)

Florida States Terance Mann (14) goes up to the basket against Gonzaga forward Rui Hachimura during an NCAA tournament regional semifinal game on March 22, 2018 in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Alex Gallardo)

Gonzaga ready for rematch vs. Florida State

The Bulldogs seeking revenge against the team that eliminated them from last year’s NCAA tournament.

  • By Jim Meehan The Spokesman-Review
  • Tuesday, March 26, 2019 7:20pm
  • Sports

By Jim Meehan

The Spokesman-Review

Certainly you remember an injured Killian Tillie on the sideline. Perhaps you’ve forgotten about 6-foot-6 Corey Kispert seeing a few minutes at center with Gonzaga’s frontcourt depth depleted.

No doubt you can recall it was defensive-minded Florida State that ended Gonzaga’s season with a 75-60 victory in the Sweet 16 last year at the Staples Center.

If Zags’ followers had flashbacks when the West Regional bracket was announced on Selection Sunday, they’ve probably intensified after the first weekend of the 2019 NCAA Tournament.

The Zags (32-3) and Seminoles (29-7) face off again in the Sweet 16 Thursday at the Honda Center in Anaheim, California, roughly 30 miles southeast of the Staples Center. Top-seeded Gonzaga is favored and the higher seed for the second year in a row, but both teams are better than their 2018 versions.

Second-seeded Michigan, which defeated Florida State in last year’s Elite Eight, tangles with No. 3 Texas Tech in Thursday’s nightcap. Michigan, by the way, defeated Montana in the opening round for the second straight year.

“It’s really special, same region of the country, same game, really, really cool,” Kispert said of the rematch. “They kind of had a special place right here ever since we lost to them last year. We can’t wait to give them our best shot.

“They’re really big, really long and really deep. They can play a lot of guys and have fresh legs.”

The Zags weren’t as deep last year as this year’s team. Tillie’s absence moved Rui Hachimura into the starting lineup for the just the second time. Hachimura responded with 16 points and nine boards, equaling his second-highest rebounding total of the season.

Tillie collided with a teammate and injured his hip in practice two days before the game. The versatile, 6-foot-10 forward attempted to go through pre-game drills, but about five minutes in he elevated for a dunk and felt sharp pain in his hip.

Tillie returned to the locker room for further evaluation and told coach Mark Few he wouldn’t be able to play. Tillie’s injury lingered for several weeks into the offseason and was one of the reasons he opted to return for his junior year instead of testing the NBA Draft waters.

“It was tough, now it’s another year and I’ll be there,” Tillie said of missing last year’s Florida State game. “Last year was a tough one. I’m really excited to go to Anaheim and play hard and get our revenge.”

Sophomore Zach Norvell Jr. knows the feeling.

“Anytime a team knocks you out last year and you get a chance to play them again it’s really exciting,” Norvell said following Gonzaga’s 83-71 win over Baylor on Saturday.

Norvell was outstanding in 2018 NCAA Tournament wins against UNC Greensboro and Ohio State. He nailed a clutch 3-pointer late to help sink UNC Greensboro and followed that up with six 3s, 28 points and 12 rebounds against the Buckeyes.

Last season, Gonzaga couldn’t get it going against the Seminoles, who used their size, length and athleticism to limit the Zags to a season-low 60 points on 33.9-percent shooting.

Norvell made three 3-pointers and scored 14 points but hit just 4 of 16 field-goal attempts.

“Just how much more emotion they (Seminoles) had coming out,” said Norvell, when asked what he remembers from last year’s game. “We’re happy to be in this situation (Thursday) and I wouldn’t want to be in this situation with any other group of guys.”

Johnathan Williams and Hachimura logged 34 and 36 minutes, respectively, while one Seminole, wing Terance Mann with 33, played more than 26 minutes.

Hachimura has only been held below double digits just twice this season. He had a season-low six points and five rebounds against Baylor and was limited to nine points and five boards by Saint Mary’s in the WCC Tournament title game. In between, Hachimura, who averages 19.7 points and 6.6 rebounds, posted 21 points and eight rebounds against Fairleigh Dickinson.

“We have good revenge in here next week,” Hachimura said. “We just have to win. I’ve got to be aggressive. As a team, we have to be the most physical team.”

Few was in celebration mode for obvious reasons following the Baylor victory when he was asked about the rematch with Florida State. He said Tillie’s injury was a “crushing blow to us emotionally.

“I don’t know if we could have beaten them with Killian, but I know it would have really, really helped,” Few said. “We will prepare like crazy. I thought they were really, really under-seeded (this year). They had Duke beat at their place and played great all year. I thought they’d end up on the two (seed) line and to see them at four, that’s kind of tough.

“You have to beat really good teams to advance in this thing. We knew were going to have to play somebody really good, and Florida State is no doubt that.”

Talk to us

More in Sports

Lake Stevens’ Cole Becker celebrates a touchdown with teammates after putting his team up against Kennedy Catholic in the WIAA 4A State Football Championship game Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022, at Mount Tahoma Stadium in Tacoma, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
2022-23 Herald Athletic Cup: Lake Stevens captures 1st place

The Vikings win the competition, which rewards local high schools for their overall athletic success, for the second straight year.

Jackson's Ben Lee poses with his first-place medal after winning the 4A boys singles state tennis tournament on May 27, 2023, in Kennewick. (WIAA photo)
Winning state tennis title ‘special feeling’ for Jackson’s Lee

The sophomore sensation took home the 4A boys singles crown at the state tennis tournament over Memorial Day weekend.

Jimmy Joyce
Joyce’s return gives AquaSox’s rotation big boost

The 24-year-old, who led the Northwest League in strikeouts last season, hadn’t pitched all season due to a forearm strain.

Spring 2023 All-Wesco teams

Note: All-Wesco teams are chosen by the league’s coaches. For any misspellings… Continue reading

Everett Community College has hired longtime assistant coach Daniel Thompson (middle) as its new head men's basketball coach. (EvCC Athletics photo)
EvCC names Thompson new men’s basketball head coach

Thompson, 35, has been an assistant with the Trojans for 9 seasons and takes over for Mike Trautman, who stepped down in April.

Hammer throw.
Local trio shines in high school hammer throw finals

Adrianna Coleman and Kimberly Beard place 1-2 in the women’s portion, and Calvin Gutierrez takes 2nd in the men’s championship.

Washington celebrates a home run by Rylee Holtorf (3) at home plate during the second inning of an NCAA softball Women's College World Series game against Utah Friday, June 2, 2023, in Oklahoma City. (AP Photo/Nate Billings)
UW opens Women’s College World Series with key win over Utah

After being rained out on Thursday, Washington beats Utah 4-1 to advance into the winner’s bracket.

Hops rally in 9th inning to sink AquaSox

Reid VanScoter turns in an impressive outing, but Everett’s bullpen falters late in a 4-3 defeat.

Rangers shortstop Corey Seager (left) reaches down to tag out the Mariners’ Teoscar Hernande, who was trying to stretch a single into a double during the third inning of a game Friday in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
Mariners’ bats silent in shutout by Rangers

Seattle’s offense musters just three hits in the 2-0 defeat.

AquaSox can’t make huge rally hold, lose to Hops

Everett takes the lead with six runs in the eighth, but allows two runs back in the ninth and falls 13-12 to Hillsboro.

The Everett Elite Flag Football 14-under team practices Sunday morning at Harbour Pointe Middle School in Mukilteo, Washington on January 16, 2022. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Community roundup: 3 Jackson grads to D-I baseball tournament

Plus, Jayden White is headed back to the NCAA track and field nationals, the Silvertips sign their first-round picks and more.

The Mariners’ Cal Raleigh smiles as a teammate throws bubblegum at him during an interview after Raleigh hit a single to drive in the winning run against the Yankees during the 10th inning of a game Wednesday in Seattle. (AP Photo/Lindsey Wasson)
Raleigh’s RBI single in 10th gives M’s 1-0 win over Yankees

George Kirby pitches one of the best games of his young career with eight shutout innings in Seattle’s 1-0 win.