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Gonzaga uses hot shooting to reach Sweet 16 for first time since 2015

Bulldogs top Utah 77-66

By TIM BOOTH, AP Sports Writer
Published: March 25, 2024, 10:08pm
5 Photos
Gonzaga guard Kayleigh Truong (11) shoots next to Utah guard Kennady McQueen (24) during the first half of a second-round college basketball game in the NCAA Tournament in Spokane, Wash., Monday, March 25, 2024.
Gonzaga guard Kayleigh Truong (11) shoots next to Utah guard Kennady McQueen (24) during the first half of a second-round college basketball game in the NCAA Tournament in Spokane, Wash., Monday, March 25, 2024. (AP Photo/Young Kwak) Photo Gallery

SPOKANE — Kayleigh Truong scored 21 points, Yvonne Ejim added 17 points and 13 rebounds, and fourth-seeded Gonzaga advanced to the Sweet 16 for the first time in nearly a decade beating No. 5 seed Utah 77-66 in the second round of the NCAA Tournament on Monday night.

The Zags used a barrage of 3-point shooting in the second and third quarters to overcome an early deficit and advanced to their first regional semifinal since 2015. Gonzaga (32-3) won its 36th consecutive game at home and will face top-seeded Texas in the Portland 4 Regional semifinal on Friday at the Moda Center.

Gonzaga received contributions from throughout the lineup. Truong and twin sister Kaylynne were on the mark from the perimeter as the Bulldogs hit 12 3-pointers in the first three quarters and led by as many as 21.

Kaylynne Truong added 14 points and Elisa Hollingsworth added 13. The Bulldogs finished 12 of 22 from beyond the 3-point line and took a victory lap through the crammed Kennel Club student section following the victory.

Alissa Pili led Utah (23-11) with 35 points, her fifth 30-point game of the season, in her final game for the Utes. Pili scored the first 10 points of the game for the Utes and closed her career with a 3-pointer with 2 seconds left before having a long hug with Utah coach Lynne Roberts.

Utah was hoping to return to the regional semifinals after last year when the Utes fell 66-63 to eventual national champion LSU.

Gonzaga trailed by as many as seven early in the second quarter before a barrage of shots started falling.

Gonzaga hit seven of its next eight shots, including five 3-pointers by five different players as part of a 19-3 run. Dasia Young scored on a driving layup with six seconds left in the half to finally end Utah’s drought, but the deficit was 10 at the break.

Gonzaga’s run didn’t stop with the halftime break. The Bulldogs scored the first 11 of the second half, including Kaylynne Truong’s desperation 3 as the shot clock expired and a 3-point play from Hollingsworth to push the lead to 55-34.

Utah rallied to pull within 67-61 with 4:49 left after six straight points from Pili. That was as close as the Utes would get. Utah missed its next five shots, Gonzaga hit five of six free throws and Ejim’s rebound basket with 1:50 left gave the Bulldogs a 74-61 lead.

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Gonzaga advanced to the Sweet 16 for the first time since the 2015 season. The Zags lost in the second round in 2022 and 2019 and will play in the regional semifinals for the fifth time in school history. Gonzaga lost to Tennessee in overtime in 2015 in coach Lisa Fortier’s first season.

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