FDU Students look on as Office of Student Life hosted a watch party at the Rothman Center on Thursday night Photo by Cassie Gilbert By Justin Rimpi
The Gonzaga Bulldogs dominated the Fairleigh Dickinson Knights 87-49 in a Round of 64 NCAA tournament game at Vivint Smart Home Arena on Thursday night in Salt Lake City, Utah.
The 38-point victory was the largest winning margin in the 24 years Gonzaga has played in the tournament, according to ESPN.
Unable to keep pace with No.1- seeded Bulldogs (31-3), the 16th seeded Knights (21-14) were dominated from the opening tip.
“I think they (Gonzaga) were rested, ready and made a little angry they didn’t win their conference championship,” FDU head coach Greg Herenda said following the game. “They played incredibly well on both ends. It was a really tough first half to go through. Our goal was to win the second half, and we lost by two points. That might seem trivial, but we don’t quit. We know you have to get off the canvas and fight, even if you know you’re not going to win.”
The 47-point output by the Knights was their lowest point total of the 2018-2019 season.
The Bulldogs will go on to face the winner of the Syracuse (8) and Baylor (9) game later Thursday night.
Getting out to an early 27-6 lead, the Bulldogs never looked back. The Knights never held a lead at any point during the game.
The Knights had won 15 of their last 17 and nine in a row heading into Salt Lake City.
“They (FDU) came in on quite a roll, their guards were shooting it really well and that concerned us,” Gonzaga head coach Mark Few said. “I loved our (defensive) intensity from the jump, and thought we had a great attention to detail.”
The Bulldogs shot 53 percent from the field and 43 percent from 3-point territory.
The Knights shot the ball poorly all game and shot 30 percent from the field and 28 percent from deep.
The Knights did not score their first field goal until a put-back by sophomore forward Elyjah Williams more than six minutes into the first half and were held in single-digits until freshman guard Bassel Saliba Jr. knocked down a three to make the score 26-11 with the Bulldogs in firm control of the contest.
Junior 6-8 forward Rui Hachimura, a Naismith Player of the Year Finalist, led the Bulldogs with 21 points and junior forward Killian Tillie scored 17.
Fourteen points from 6-8 redshirt junior Brandon Clarke made him the third leading scorer for the Bulldogs.
Ten points from senior forward Michael Holloway Jr. and junior forward Kaleb Bishop led the way for the Knights in the game.
The Knights’ leading scorer, 6-2 senior guard Darnell Edge, was held to 7 points on 2-11 shooting from the field and 1-5 from 3-point range.
Edge entered the game averaging 16.9 ppg and was the nation’s third leading shooter from deep, hitting over 47 percent of his 3’s.
The Knights entered the game the fifth-ranked 3-point shooting team, hitting over 40 percent of their attempts, hit 28 percent in the game.
The Knights matched their first-half point total, 17 points, in the first 7 minutes of the second. The Knights played better in the second half, but the hole they dug for themselves in the first half was far too much to overcome.
The Knights were dominated on the offensive boards as the Bulldogs pulled down 15 offensive rebounds to the Knights’ 10 as Gonzaga outrebounded FDU 47-30.
The Bulldogs went into halftime with a commanding 53-17 lead after a 19-0 run to end the first half.
The Knights’ 17-point first half was their lowest output of the season.
The Knights started off the game ice cold, and it continued through the opening 20 minutes. They shot 19 and 25 percent, respectively, from the field and 3-point range.
Holloway Jr. led the Knights with 5 points in the first half.
The Bulldogs shot a red-hot 58 percent from the field and 72 percent from distance in the first half.
Hachimura led the Bulldogs with 14 in the first half and Killie scored 10.
Edge, Holloway Jr. and senior forward Nadi Beciri all played their final collegiate game Thursday night in Utah. Holloway and Edge are two of the best players to ever don the Burgundy and Blue. Edge holds the record for most made 3’s of any player in FDU history with 201.
Holloway finished his career with the 10th most points in school history with 1,490. Holloway finished with the fourth-most rebounds in school history with 788.
“They were very very good on defense,” said Holloway, “That’s a national championship-caliber team.
Quotes were obtained from an NJ.com story