SALT LAKE CITY (The Sports XChange) -- Jordan Mathews scored 16 points and Johnathan Williams collected 14 rebounds to lead top seeded Gonzaga to a 66-46 victory over 16th-seeded South Dakota State in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Thursday.
The Bulldogs (33-1) trailed much of the first half, but pulled away after halftime after holding the Jackrabbits to 29.0 percent shooting in the second half. Gonzaga forced 13 turnovers and held South Dakota State (18-17) without a field goal for long stretches.
Mike Daum scored 17 points to lead South Dakota State. The Jackrabbits trailed the entire second half.
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After struggling on offense before halftime, Gonzaga blew the game wide open early in the second half. Nigel Williams-Goss buried back-to-back jumpers to give the Bulldogs their first double-digit lead at 37-26. South Dakota State cut it to 40-33 on a jumper from Daum with 13:59 remaining before Gonzaga buried the Jackrabbits for good.
The Bulldogs allowed just three points over a nine-minute stretch and steadily pulled away. Williams-Goss capped the 16-3 run with another jumper, giving Gonzaga a 56-36 lead with 5:00 left.
Gonzaga shot just 31.0 percent from the field in the first half. The Bulldogs did not take their first lead until Zach Collins made a layup with 1:40 left before halftime. That go-ahead basket from Collins highlighted a 7-0 run over the final 2 1/2 minutes of the half that gave Gonzaga a 26-22 lead going into the locker room.
South Dakota State made three of four shots to open up an 8-2 lead. Gonzaga rallied and tied it at 12-12 on a 3-pointer from Collins.
The Bulldogs could not overtake the Jackrabbits when both teams went through a four-minute drought without a field goal. They combined to miss 14 shots in that stretch. Daum finally broke the ice with a 3-pointer to put South Dakota State ahead 22-19.
That ended up being the only basket for the Jackrabbits over the final 7:44 of the half. South Dakota State missed 10 of 11 shots in that span and committed three turnovers.