No. 25 Texas A&M beats No. 10 Gonzaga
PARADISE ISLAND, BAHAMAS >> Texas A&M knew it would need to play tough underneath the basket to compete with the size of No. 10 Gonzaga.
The Aggies did that to earn a place in the Battle 4 Atlantis championship game.
Danuel House scored 19 points, and Texas A&M edged Gonzaga 62-61 on Thursday.
"I was really proud of our guys defensively down the stretch. Our goal was to hold their big three guys to 30 points or less and we were able to do that," coach Billy Kennedy said. "The best thing about our team is we didn't panic. Emotionally I thought we were locked in the whole game."
The Aggies took the lead on House's free throw with just over a minute to play, and the Zags' Silas Melson missed a fadeaway jumper at the buzzer with House contesting the shot.
"Any time we have a tough game it's teaching us all how to be poised, how to play under control and how to execute so we can give ourselves a chance to win a game," House said.
Tonny Trocha-Morelos added 14 points for Texas A&M (6-0).
Gonzaga (3-1) led for much of the game but missed some key free throws down the stretch. After making six 3-pointers in the first half, the Zags connected on just three in the second.
Kyle Wiltjer led Gonzaga with 18 points. Josh Perkins added 15.
The Zags had to play without big man Domantas Sabonis for a large chunk of the second half after he picked up his fourth foul.
They were able to keep the Aggies in check until he returned with less than four minutes to play. But Sabonis was lost for good with 2:39 left when he fouled out.
Texas A&M went in front 61-60 on a pair of free throws by Alex Caruso. The Zags tied it back up a trip later when Przemek Karnowski got one of two on his trip to the line.
House was fouled with 1:05 to play and also connected on one of two for the final margin.
With the clock under a minute, the Aggies forced Gonzaga's Josh Perkins to turn it over on a bad pass. But Texas A&M lost a scramble out of bounds on its ensuing possession to set up the Zags' final shot.
Gonzaga was up by as many as four points in the closing minutes but could never increase the lead.
"A stat that jumps out, and it's a shame — we missed a ton of free throws there where we probably could have extended that lead," coach Mark Few said.
Both teams had 20 points in the paint. ... Texas A&M had a 13-7 advantage in bench scoring.
HALF-COURT ATTACK: After both teams earned opening-round wins in fast-paced games that were played in the 80s, each relied on its half-court sets for most of the afternoon Thursday. As defense stiffened inside, outside shots flew at will. The Aggies were the more active team defensively and came away with five steals and 11 points off Gonzaga's turnovers.
LET 'EM PLAY: There were just 11 total fouls called in first half between Gonzaga and Texas A&M and 33 for the game. The fewest total fouls for any of the opening-round games Wednesday was 59.
Gonzaga plays the loser of the UConn-Syracuse matchup in the third-place game Friday.
Texas A&M plays the winner in the championship game.
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