Arizona struggled with depth and consistent scoring early and often in the 69-62 loss to Gonzaga at Staples Center.
Gonzaga jumped out to a quick lead, with back-to-back three-pointers from Jordan Matthews and Nigel Williams-Goss. Lauri Markkanen got the Wildcats on the board with a layin, but Przemek Karnowski and Johnathan Williams each scored buckets as Gonzaga jumped out to an early 10-3 lead.
Kadeem Allen was able to score and cut into the lead, but Karnowski scored on a hook shot to answer. Josh Perkins joined in on the action with his first two points coming at the free throw line before Matthews sunk another 3 ball to put the Bulldogs up 17-5.
Arizona got a few things going with a Kobi Simmons runner in the lane and a Dusan Ristic put back, but as Gonzaga had done up to that point, it answered. Perkins hit a long ball and Zach Collins hit a three for his first points of the night as Gonzaga took a 23-9 lead.
After that, both teams turned sloppy on offense. Ristic hit one of two free throws to cut into the lead. A few oplays later, Keanu Pinder made both of his attempts from the charity stripe. After a few missed Gonzaga shots, Ristic scored as the shot clock wound down, but Karnowski answered almost immediately.
Both teams traded baskets back and forth with Collins and Mathews scoring for Gonzaga and Alkins getting back-to-back buckets for Arizona. Perkins switched things up with a three-pointer, but the Wildcats were able to get the lead down to single digits with a Pinder put back and an Allen basket and free throw after a steal.
Even with the push, the Bulldogs were able to answer back before halftime. Williams and Karnowski started a 6-1 run as the time began to wind down in the first half. Arizona was able to get into the locker room with a little momentum as Allen scored in the lane just before the buzzer sounded and Gonzaga led 38-26 at halftime.
Both teams came out of half time and immediately attacked the paint. Markkanen and Karnowski traded baskets before Allen was charged with his third foul of the game and awarded Perkins two free throws.
Markkanen went back to the paint and picked up three points on a shot and free throw, but Karnowski hit a runner in the lead and Gonzaga led 44-31.
Just moments later, Allen was whistled for his fourth foul of the game and was forced to sit with over seventeen minutes remaining. On the ensuing possession, Perkins hit a three-pointer to give Gonzaga a 16-point advantage, the largest up to that point.
After Allen's brief stop on the bench, Arizona made another push, going on a 7-2 scoring run. Ristic scored two baskets down low and Rawle Alkins added a lay up and one of two free throws during the stretch that cut the lead to 49-38.
The Bulldogs continued to attack the post with Karnowski as he scored twice in the post around an Alkins two in the paint. From there, it was a flurry of free throws as Ristic hit one of two before Perkins scored on an easy lay up. Ristic and Williams-Goss each added two more from the line before Alkins hit Arizona's first three pointer of the night pulling Arizona to within 11.
Collins scored two before a media timeout and Allen answered with a step back on the other end of the break. It sparked a run in the Wildcats as Markkanen hit a jumper to bring the deficit to single digits and Alkins scored in the lane to cut Gonzaga's lead to 59-52.
The free throw game continued late into the contest. Collins hit just one of two before Markkanen hit both of his. Williams-Goss got a basket over the big man and Melson added a free throw to extend the lead to nine. Pinder earned two of his points at the free throw line and Arizona called its final timeout with 2:11 left in the game trailing 63-56.
Arizona fought hard as the game wound down with Chance Comanche getting his first basket of the game to cut the lead down to five, but that was as close as it would get. Williams-Goss scored on a runner down the lane and Markkanen missed an open three on the opposite side of the court. Perkins hit one of his two free throws, but Alkins was unable to connect on his shot from deep with Williams-Goss grabbing the rebound.
Markkanen and Matthews each traded sets of free throws and Alkins scored a layup with just seconds remaining, but it didn't matter as Gonzaga came away with the 69-62 victory.null