For 30 minutes, Gonzaga was flirting with the wrong kind of history as the Bulldogs were neck-and-neck with Georgia State before pulling away late to defeat the 16th-seeded Panthers 93-72 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
"Once we started breaking them down, I kept telling people that's not a 16 seed", said Bulldogs head coach Mark Few. "I think they showed it tonight. Georgia State gave us quite a fight."
Drew Timme led top-ranked Gonzaga (27-3) with 32 points, 22 in the second half and 13 rebounds. Freshman sensation Chet Holmgren finished with 19 points, 17 rebounds and seven blocked shots.
"My guys had my back and my coaches really believed in me", Timme said. "I just had confidence from them. It's just really reassuring. It really can give you a boost when you get a little down on yourself."
Corey Allen led Georgia State (18-11) with 16 points. Jalen Thomas and Kane Williams each had 12 as the Panthers, in the NCAA Tournament for the third time in the last four seasons, saw their ten-game winning streak snapped.
'We gave them a lot of easy buckets in the paint and a lot of fouls", Williams said. "Those fouls kind of bit us. We just couldn't overcome after that."
Story of the game
Georgia State came out confident and put on quite the show. A three-pointer by Ja'Heim Hudson with 8:15 to play in the first half tied the game 21-21. Less than a minute later, Allen made a pair of free throws to cap a 7-0 run and give the Panthers a 23-21 lead.
Gonzaga missed 12 consecutive shots and didn't make a field goal for more than seven minutes despite the absence of Georgia State big man Eliel Nsoseme. The Panthers trailed by just two at halftime despite shooting 28.6 percent from the floor.
A jumper by Evan Johnson gave the Sun Belt champions a 54-52 lead with 13:09 left and a second-ever 16 seed defeating a one seed looked to be a possibility even with Timme's improved play in the second half.
That's when Gonzaga turned it on. Holmgren scored on a putback and Nolan Hickman blocked a shot and scored in transition. Six points from Timme made it a 16-point game as Georgia State saw three interior players foul out.
The Panthers didn't score again until there were five minutes to play and by that time, they were down by 22. The teams played the final few minutes evenly as the Bulldogs look ahead to a second-round matchup with ninth seed Memphis.