SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Top-seeded Gonzaga fought off a wild Northwestern comeback for a 79-73 victory Saturday night with help from an untimely technical foul on Wildcats coach Chris Collins.
Northwestern trimmed a 22-point deficit to five and had the ball when Gonzaga’s Zach Collins reached up through the basket to reject Dererk Pardon’s shot with 4:54 left.
There was no call, and Collins, jawing with the officials all day, ran onto the court and was slapped with a technical foul.
Nigel Williams-Goss made both free throws, and eighth-seeded Northwestern (24-12) — in the NCAA Tournament for the first time in program history — never got closer.
Williams-Goss led the Zags (34-1) with 20 points, eight rebounds and four assists, while Collins and Jordan Mathews had 14 points each.
Bryant McIntosh, who hit the go-ahead free throws in Northwestern’s opening-round win, had 20 for the Wildcats and Vic Law had 18.
BIG MAN SHUFFLE: The Wildcats had more trouble stopping 7-foot-1 Przemek Karnowski’s backup than Karnowski himself. The senior missed his first three shots and never got into much of a groove on the way to nine points. His backup, Collins, had 14 points, including back-to-back three-point plays that pushed Gonzaga’s lead back to 19 in the second half after it had briefly dropped to 12.
NO ENCORE: For the second straight game, McIntosh had a memorable second half, but it was his first half that made the difference. He shot only 3 for 9 in the first half, part of a 30 percent shooting effort by the Wildcats, who fell behind by as many as 22.
FOUL TROUBLE: Part of their coach’s frustration: The Wildcats finished the game with 26 fouls. Pardon fouled out and three players, Scottie Lindsey, Barret Benson and Gavin Skelly, finished with four each.
NEXT UP: Gonzaga faces fourth-seeded West Virginia in the West regional semifinal Thursday in San Jose, California.
Copyright 2017 The Associated Press.