Cyclones rally from 18 down before coming up short
By MARK DIDTLER
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — No. 11 Gonzaga dominated the first half and overcome significant struggles in the final 20 minutes to beat No. 21 Iowa State 73-71 on Sunday in the AdvoCare Invitational championship game.
Gonzaga nearly blew an 18-point second-half lead.
“I definitely think we got a little tentative in the second half and you can’t do that, especially when you’re playing such a good team,” said Nigel Williams-Goss, Gonzaga top scorer with 18 points. “They’re just not going to go away without a fight.”
Josh Perkins added 12 points and Przemek Karnowki had 11 for Gonzaga (6-0).
Iowa State (5-1) got 29 points from Deonte Burton, including 21 in the second half.
“My teammates trusted me,” Burton said.
After falling behind by 18 early in the second half, Monte Morris’ jumper cut the Iowa State deficit to 70-69 with 4 minutes to go.
Burton missed a 3 with Iowa State down 72-71 with 17 seconds remaining. The game ended when Morris’ shot that came after the buzzer rimmed out.
Gonzaga had a foul to give and took it with 5 seconds left, which forced an in-bound pass from Iowa State.
“They made a good decision,” Iowa State coach Steve Prohm said. “I thought we could still execute it. The one thing I kick myself about is not having a second action after the initial play.”
“We were lucky enough to have it and use it,” Gonzaga coach Mark Few said.
Iowa State used full-court pressure to key a 15-0 run that got the Cyclones to 58-55 7 minutes into the second half. Burton had 11 points over the stretch.
“Everything was clicking for everyone,” Burton said. “It was our defense that really helped us. Our defense made our offense.”
Williams-Goss ended the Iowa State surge with a 3-pointer.
Williams-Goss had 12 points and Karnowski chipped in with 10 as Gonzaga shot 64.5 percent (20 for 31) in taking a 49-34 halftime lead.
Over the final 3 1-2 minutes of the opening half, Karnowski had three layups and set up a dunk by Johnathan Williams with a nifty no-look pass.
Naz Mitrou-Long had all of his 16 points during the opening 20 minutes, when the Cyclones shot 38.2 percent (13 for 34).
Iowa State played the invitational without Solomon Young. He could miss four weeks with a left hand injury. The freshman forward is averaging 8.7 points and 5.3 rebounds.
Gonzaga improved to 9-0 in the Thanksgiving tournament at Disney formerly known as the Old Spice Classic. The Bulldogs also won the event in 2008 and 2012. “It’s unbelievable to come down here as Gonzaga and win this thing three times in a row with the level of competition that we’re playing,” Few said.
With the just-short comeback Sunday and a win over Miami, a team that received votes in the AP poll, Iowa State should stay in the Top-25.
Gonzaga made a case for moving into the Top 10 with three victories this weekend.
Iowa State was looking to go 6-0 for the second consecutive season and third time in four years. … The Cyclone shot 50 percent (16 for 32) in the second half.
Gonzaga struggled shooting in the second half, going 7 for 24 (29.2 percent). … Despite a size advantage, the Bulldogs ended up tied with Iowa State in rebounds (34 apiece).
Iowa State: Thursday night faces Cincinnati, a team that received votes in the AP poll.
Gonzaga: plays Mississippi Valley State on Thursday night before a Saturday matchup against No. 8 Arizona.