EditorsNote: update 2: adds day in lede
Corey Kispert broke out of an early-season shooting slump, scoring 28 points to lead No. 8 Gonzaga to a 94-69 win over Southern Mississippi on Wednesday in the first round of the Battle 4 Atlantis at Paradise Island, Bahamas.
The Bulldogs (7-0) will oppose No. 11 Oregon (6-0) in the semifinals on Thursday. The Golden Eagles (2-4) will take on No. 13 Seton Hall (4-2) in the losers bracket.
Kispert, who had made just 3 of 24 field-goal attempts in the Bulldogs’ previous three games, made 9 of 11 attempts, including going 7-for-8 from 3-point range.
Joel Ayayi finished with 21 points, 12 rebounds and six assists off the bench for Gonzaga, which came in to the game averaging 88.3 points per game.
LaDavius Draine and Artur Konontsuk each scored 19 points to lead Southern Miss.
The Golden Eagles took an early 4-1 lead on a pair of Tyler Stevenson’s baskets.
But then Kispert went to work. He connected on two 3-pointers and a layup to give the Bulldogs a lead they would not relinquish.
The Golden Eagles tied the game at 18, but Kispert answered with his third 3-pointer of the half to give Gonzaga a 21-18 lead.
The Bulldogs scored 10 straight to open a 13-point advantage.
Kispert finished the first half with 14 points, and Filip Petrusev and Ayayi each scored 11 as the Bulldogs raced to a 53-32 lead at halftime. The Bulldogs made 20 of 29 field-goal attempts in the first 20 minutes and outscored Southern Miss 26-6 in the paint.
The Bulldogs kept up the pressure early in the second half and built a 69-42 lead with 15:10 to go on a jumper by Petrusev. The lead grew to 82-50 midway through the half on Martynas Arlauskas’ three-point play.
Petrusev finished with 16 points and seven rebounds, while Drew Timme chipped in with 11 points and seven rebounds off the bench.
Gonzaga continued to struggle from the free-throw line, making only 13 of 20 attempts. The Bulldogs entered play Wednesday making only 65.9 percent of their foul shots.
—Field Level Media