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NCAAB: No. 5 Gonzaga prepared to use 3-pointer vs. Northern Arizona

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Preseason All-American Drew Timme is usually the key cog in the attack for Gonzaga’s men’s basketball team.

But if defensive tactics won’t allow inside opportunities, the No. 5 Bulldogs must knock down shots from the perimeter. So, they will look to follow up their season best for 3-pointers when they host Northern Arizona on Monday night in a nonconference battle.

No. 25 Texas Tech collapsed around Timme with two or three defenders repeatedly on Saturday and the Gonzaga star only attempted four shots while scoring a season-low seven points in the Bulldogs’ 69-55 win at the Jerry Colangelo Classic in Phoenix.

The Bulldogs (9-2) thwarted the Red Raiders’ strategy by making 13 of 31 attempts from 3-point range. The total made was Gonzaga’s most of the season and the 41.9 percent success rate is second-best for the Bulldogs this season.

Rasir Bolton made five 3-pointers — a season-high — while scoring 15 points. Andrew Nembhard made a season-high four 3-pointers — also a season-best — while scoring 16 points. Nembhard was 0 of 11 from behind the arc over his previous four games.

“It’s just about making the right basketball play,” Gonzaga coach Mark Few said of the long-range shooting. “These guys are great. We empower them to do that and make their reads and make the right basketball play. We just go out there and expect to make the right basketball play.”

Saturday’s performance raised the Bulldogs’ 3-point percentage to 34 percent on the season, a figure that still needs boosting. Bolton, shooting 42.9 percent from long range, leads Gonzaga with 24 3-pointers and Julian Strawther has made 23 while shooting 39.7 percent.

It wasn’t just Timme who was hindered by the Texas Tech strategy. Freshman big man Chet Holmgren also took just four shots and had only five points, his second-lowest output of the season.

Timme, who shoots 62.8 percent from the field, averages a team-high 17.4 points. Holmgren — third in scoring at 12.7 points — shoots 62.1 percent from the field. Strawther is second on the Zags with a 13.5 points per-game average.

Of course, Gonzaga might be successful from anywhere on the court against Northern Arizona (4-7), which has lost two straight games and five of its last six.

The Lumberjacks also were part of the field at the Jerry Colangelo Classic and lost 69-59 to San Diego on Saturday night.

Northern Arizona was outrebounded 44-25 and coach Shane Burcar was highly dejected over his team’s showing. Burcar promised to find ways his team can improve prior to Monday’s game against Gonzaga.

“How can we be better? We got to figure out lineups,” Burcar said on the school’s postgame radio broadcast. “I’m very frustrated with our performance.”

The loss to San Diego was the Lumberjacks’ fifth by double digits already this season.

Jalen Cone, who averages a team-best 17.6 points per-game, scored 20 points against the Toreros but was just 6 of 20 from the field. Carson Towt added 17 points on 8-of-11 shooting and Mason Stark tallied 13 by sinking 6 of 8 attempts.

Gonzaga routed Northern Arizona 88-58 last season in Spokane and holds a 15-6 series lead.

Northern Arizona’s last victory over Gonzaga was decades ago, winning 85-64 on Feb. 15, 1979.

–Field Level Media

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