EditorsNote: adds Illinois’ Tuesday opponent in fifth graf
Third-ranked Gonzaga survived a ragged performance and a 27-point second half by Illinois’ Trent Frazier to eke out an 84-78 win Monday night in the final first-round game of the Maui Invitational at Lahaina, Hawaii.
Five players scored in double figures for the Bulldogs (4-0), led by Rui Hachimura with 23 points. Zach Norvell Jr. added 15, while Jeremy Jones chipped in 14 points and 11 rebounds off the bench. Josh Perkins and Brandon Clarke each tallied 10 points.
Frazier led all scorers with 29 points, connecting on six 3-pointers in the second half, including a four-point play with 1:01 left to pull the Fighting Illini (1-2) within 80-78. However, Frazier airballed an open 3-point attempt from the left wing that would have given Illinois the lead with less than 15 seconds remaining.
Jones drained two free throws with 9.9 seconds left for a four-point lead, and Hachimura dunked off Clarke’s rejection of a 3-point try just before the final buzzer.
Gonzaga, which committed 22 turnovers, including seven by the normally steady Perkins, will play Arizona in Tuesday night’s second semifinal. No. 1 Duke and No. 8 Auburn will meet in the first semifinal. Illinois will oppose Iowa State in the consolation bracket.
Giorgi Bezhanishvili added 17 points and six rebounds for the Illini, who sank only 38.6 percent of their field-goal tries and were outrebounded 44-35.
Gonzaga led nearly the entire first half, but Illinois hung with the Bulldogs bucket for bucket, responding every time the Zags made a short burst.
The margin never got past four points until the 5:56 mark of the half, when Jones’ stick-back put Gonzaga ahead 29-23. The Fighting Illini answered, pulling within 32-31 with 2:27 left when Frazier and Bezhanishvili converted turnovers into buckets.
The Zags closed the half with a bang, getting a jumper from Norvell and a 3-pointer from Jones with 14 seconds remaining to take a 39-32 lead to the locker room. They did so despite committing 14 turnovers. Illinois only turned those miscues into 11 points.
—Field Level Media