Julian Strawther scored a game-high 28 points and grabbed 10 rebounds as third-seeded Gonzaga pulled away in the second half of an 82-70 victory against No. 14 Grand Canyon in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament’s West Regional on Friday night in Denver.
Drew Timme added 21 points for the Bulldogs (29-5), who will play the winner of Friday’s late game between Arizona State and TCU on Sunday. Anton Watson also had a double-double with 14 points and 11 rebounds.
Rayshon Harrison led the Lopes (24-12) with 20 points, Chance McMillian scored 16 and Gabe McGlothan had 11.
The Zags used a 16-0 run in the second half to pull away, taking a 64-42 lead with 9:54 left, as GCU went scoreless for more than 6 1/2 minutes.
Gonzaga shot 53.6% from the field (30 of 56) and was 7 of 15 from 3-point range. Grand Canyon shot 43.1% (28 of 65) and was 9 of 24 from long distance. The Zags had a big edge at the free-throw line, going 15 of 19 while the Lopes were just 5 of 7.
The Zags out rebounded Grand Canyon 39-25 and had a 40-26 advantage in points in the paint as well as 11-4 in fast-break points.
Gonzaga led 40-36 after a back-and-forth first half as Strawther scored 16 points.
The Zags scored the game’s first seven points, forcing Grand Canyon coach Bryce Drew to call a timeout less than two minutes in.
After Gonzaga extended the lead to 10-2, the Lopes went on a 10-0 run — capped by back-to-back 3-pointers from Walter Ellis and McMillian — to pull ahead.
Grand Canyon was up 28-21 before the Zags responded with an 8-0 run to regain the lead.
Timme made a layup with 1:52 left in the half to put the Zags up and he then assisted on Strawther’s 3-pointer that made it 38-34.