No. 1 Zags win battle with No. 11 West Virginia despite Suggs’ injury scare

Gonzaga takes down No. 11 West Virginia
Team huddle as Gonzaga finishes off the Mountaineers.
Courtesy: ESPN

INDIANAPOLIS – The last time Gonzaga faced West Virginia in a 2017 Sweet Sixteen matchup, they needed a Jordan Matthews three-pointer with 50 seconds to go for the win.

Early on in the 2020 rematch, there was no doubt it would be close again, with more drama. The Bulldogs pulled their offense together in the second half and took their third straight win, a 87-82 win over the Mountaineers.

The Zags and West Virginia went back-and-forth in the first half until a scary injury for Jalen Suggs brought everything to a pause. Around the seven-minute mark, Suggs was driving to the rim, appeared to slip with his left foot as he was trying to slow himself down. He had to be helped off the court by two coaches, including Mark Few.

ESPN’s sideline reporter Holly Rowe later reported she was told the Suggs injury was a ‘left ankle’ and was not expected to return. That changed in the second half. There was video of Suggs actually jumping on that left foot in the tunnel once the second half was underway, which was good news. Better news? Suggs checked into the game in the second half and was moving relatively well.

West Virginia took advantage of an inefficient Drew Timme, who started the game 1-of-9, as they took their largest lead of nine points.

Joel Ayayi and Andrew Nembhard got the scoring going again before half, pulling the Zags within 39-34 at halftime. Ayayi was consistent throughout the game, leading Gonzaga in scoring with 21 points.

The return of Suggs also aided the return of Gonzaga’s offense, after he checked into the game in the second half, he had an assist to Timme that helped him gain some confidence back shooting-wise. He finished the game with 17 points and 3 rebounds.

Andrew Nembard was the spark behind Suggs’ lack of scoring and a tough night for Timme, scoring 19 for the Bulldogs. Corey Kispert added 19.

The Zags improve to 3-0, and have their toughest test so far this Saturday when they face No. 2 Baylor.