Utah State guard Sam Merrill (left) and Gonzaga forward Johnathan Williams go after a rebound during the first half of a game on Nov. 18, 2017, in Spokane. (AP Photo/Young Kwak)

Utah State guard Sam Merrill (left) and Gonzaga forward Johnathan Williams go after a rebound during the first half of a game on Nov. 18, 2017, in Spokane. (AP Photo/Young Kwak)

No. 17 Gonzaga beats Utah State 79-66

Killian Tilllie scores 20 points and King’s alum Corey Kispert adds 12 in the victory.

Associated Press

SPOKANE — The 3-point shooting of Utah State gave No. 17 Gonzaga fits in the first half on Saturday night.

The Aggies threw a scare into Gonzaga before the Bulldogs woke up in the second half and rolled to a 79-66 victory.

“We were punched in the mouth a couple of times,” Gonzaga coach Mark Few said. “We responded in a positive way.”

Killian Tillie scored 20 points on 8-of-11 shooting and grabbed nine rebounds to lead the Bulldogs. Corey Kispert and Silas Melson each scored 12 points for Gonzaga (3-0), which lost to North Carolina in the NCAA title game last season. Josh Perkins added 11 points.

“Corey Kispert got us going with tough, physical plays,” Few said of the freshman who added nine rebounds. Kispert is the first true freshman in several years to start at Gonzaga.

Sam Merrill scored 19 points for Utah State (2-2), which shot 39 percent in the game. DeAngelo Isby added 13 and Diogo Brito scored 11.

The Aggies played without guard Koby McEwen, a preseason all-Mountain West selection, because of an ankle injury.

“I was proud of them tonight,” Utah State coach Tim Duryea said of his team. “They handled the environment and the quality of the opponent.

“They did a terrific job through halftime and gave themselves a chance in the second half,” Duryea said.

Utah State made five 3-pointers, three by Merrill, to take an early 17-11 lead.

Gonzaga went on a 9-1 run, capped by a 3-pointer by Zach Norvell Jr., to take a 20-18 lead.

The Aggies went ahead 39-31 with 5:22 left in the first, but did not make another field goal in the half. Gonzaga outscored them 14-3 to take a 45-42 lead at halftime.

The Aggies made 8 of 17 3-point attempts in the first half.

“We knew they wanted to shoot the 3,” Few said. “We didn’t do a great job of getting out there.

“We had real rebounding issues at the half,” Few added. “We adjusted those and did better in the second half.”

After scoring 42 points in the first half, Utah State scored only 24 in the second.

Gonzaga pushed its lead to 60-52 with 12 minutes left in the game, as Utah State’s shooting woes continued.

Five straight points by Merrill brought the Aggies within three. But the Zags went on a 17-0 run to push their lead to 77-57, their largest of the game. Utah State was scoreless for nearly 6 minutes and made only two field goals in the final 10 minutes of the game.

“We were right there for 30 minutes and I think we’ll take this as a learning opportunity,” Merrill said. “It should help us going forward.”

Talk to us

More in Sports

Olen Zellweger
Tips prevail during light week despite being short-handed due to COVID

Three players tested positive for COVID before Everett’s only game, but the Tips still won 5-3.

X
Vote for The Herald’s Prep Athlete of the Week for Jan. 17-23

The Athlete of the Week nominees for Jan. 17-23. Voting closes at… Continue reading

Stanwood's Owen Thayer makes a layup during the game against Mountlake Terrace on Thursday, Jan. 20, 2022 in Stanwood, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Prep basketball weekly update: Storylines from around the area

Chaos atop Wesco 3A/2A boys, a GP boys buzzer-beater, a signature Lake Stevens girls victory, and more.

The Shorecrest bench reacts to a missed shot in the final seconds of regular time to send the game against Arlington to overtime on Tuesday, Dec. 14, 2021 in Arlington, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Wave of cancellations wreaking havoc on winter prep sports

‘It’s just been so hard’: Canceled games and program shutdowns have been commonplace for local teams.

Seattle University's Hal Uderitz, a Snohomish High School graduate, competes during a game against Portland on Sept. 12, 2019. (Photo provided by Seattle U)
Snohomish grad hopes to earn contract with Sounders

Hal Uderitz was drafted in the third round by Seattle and aims to prove in preseason he’s deserving of a first-team contract.

Seattle Kraken goaltender Philipp Grubauer (31) looks on as Kraken center Calle Jarnkrok (19) clears the puck during the second period of an NHL hockey game against the Florida Panthers, Sunday, Jan. 23, 2022, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Appleton, Grubauer lead Kraken to 5-3 win over Panthers

Seattle scored three goals in the second period and knocked off the NHL’s points leaders.

Oregon guard Rivaldo Soares (11) makes a pass against Washington guard Terrell Brown Jr. (23) in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Eugene, Ore., Sunday, Jan. 23, 2022. (AP Photo/Thomas Boyd)
Huskies go down big in loss to rival Oregon

UW fell behind 37-8 and never came close in a blowout loss to the Ducks.

Stanwood's Kaeden McGlothin yells after stealing the ball from Mountlake Terrace's Adison Mattix to seal the win for Stanwood on Thursday, Jan. 20, 2022 in Stanwood, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Stanwood pulls out ‘gritty’ win over Mountlake Terrace

The Spartans answered every Mountlake Terrace push in a tense fourth quarter for a 63-62 victory.

Winter prep sports roundup.
Prep results for Saturday, Jan. 22

Prep results for Saturday, Jan. 22: (Note for coaches/scorekeepers: To report results… Continue reading

Most Read