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Drew Timme inspires Gonzaga, leads second-half comeback to defeat Memphis

PORTLAND, Ore. — After a first half in which the top-seeded Gonzaga Bulldogs trailed the No. 9 seeded Memphis Tigers 41-31 on Saturday in a second-round basketball game men’s ball of the NCAA Tournament, leading scorer Drew Timme took it upon himself to set the tone for a second-half comeback.

First, Timme delivered a motivational message in the hallway before his team returned to the field, a message he cleaned up in a postgame interview with CBS reporter Andy Katz and summed up as follows: “I don’t care what happens at the end of the game, whether we lose or win, we won’t come out as no…sweet guys.”

Then Timme continued his remarks with the production as Gonzaga rallied for an 82-78 victory, qualifying for the Sweet 16 for the seventh consecutive NCAA Tournament – ​​a streak that is one of the four longest in tournament history, joined by two from Duke under Mike Krzyzewski (nine and seven, respectively) and a record 13 straight Sweet 16s for North Carolina from 1981-1993 under coach Dean Smith.

After Memphis opened the second half with a bucket to extend the lead to 12, Timme scored the next seven points of the game. Overall, he scored 14 of the Zags’ 16 points in a row when they cut the deficit to two, making a 3-pointer and hitting from a variety of difficult angles.

“It seemed like he got every offensive rebound, every foul, every bucket for them back-to-back,” Tigers coach Penny Hardaway said. nobody…he made fantastic shots. Great defense and he still nailed them. That’s why he is what he is.”

For his part, Timme would rather not need second-half heroics.

“I would like to stop doing that, he said. I would like to do a better job in the first half because it is not a recipe for going far and winning a lot of games.”

“I think sometimes he likes to push his way through these games,” Gonzaga coach Mark Few said.

It was a second straight slow start for the Zags at Portland. Facing No. 16 seed Georgia State in Thursday’s first round game, the Bulldogs led by just two at halftime before turning the game around. routed with a 21-0 in the second half. Timme had a team-high 10 points in the first half of that game, but shot 3 of 7 from the field and missed 5 of 9 free throw attempts.

On Saturday, Timme was even calmer in the first half, scoring just four points on 1-of-3 shooting and 2-of-4 free throws against a talented Memphis side who had won 13 of their previous 15 games after a 9- 8 at the start, Gonzaga didn’t have the same kind of margin of error this time around.

Although the Zags have been 0-3 so far this season when trailing at halftime, Few didn’t deliver a fiery talk at halftime.

“I don’t think I was screaming and screaming,” Few said, “but I was a little bit flustered that we were playing ‘soft,’ so it wasn’t Drew’s original thought.”

“It was reiterated,” chimed Timme.

After all, few people had reason to be confident. Gonzaga faced a variety of obstacles during last year’s undefeated run to the national championship game, where the team was ultimately defeated by the Baylor Bears.

“These guys are battle tested,” Few said, referring to upper class men Timme and guard Andrew Nembhard. “These two have been through it all.”

On the opposing sideline, Hardaway admitted what happened to his team in the second half.

“They went to Championship level. We were the more aggressive team in the first half. We kind of shocked them, we took their confidence. I knew coming out after half-time that they were going make an adjustment because they “It’s a great team and they made it. They had to take shots and they had to stop and they went both ways.”

Despite the push led by Timme, the Tigers always stayed in the game until the last seconds. A 3-pointer from Lester Quinones brought Memphis down to two at 78-76, and two free throws from Landers Nolley II again produced a two-point game. with just over six seconds remaining.

Both times Nembhard made a pair of free throws, preventing the Tigers from ever having an opportunity to tie the score or take the lead – no guarantee on a night the Zags shot 13 of 24 (52%) from the fault line, after a performance of 16 out of 30 (53%) on Thursday.

“For him to step up and hit those free throws when literally everyone on our team was smoking them was probably the most impressive thing of the night if you ask me,” Few said.

On the other side, Hardaway was certainly impressed with Timme.

“We understand we were the underdogs and we were going to have to fight those guys and went halftime up to 10 and took it to 12 and then the Drew Timme effect kicked in,” Hardaway said. controlled the game, caused trouble for our guys and the rest is history.”

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