Fueled by record-setting performances from Corey Kispert and Drew Timme, the Gonzaga Bulldogs took down yet another top foe in the No. 16 ranked Virginia Cavaliers by a score of 98-75 on Saturday in Fort Worth, Texas. Both of GU’s leaders set career highs in scoring, as Kispert finished with 32 points including nine three-pointers, tying a school record. Timme also set a personal best with 29 points.
Kispert found himself in an offensive rhythm right from the opening tip. The senior knocked down his first three-pointer of the afternoon less than 2 minutes into the game, setting the tone for what was to come. He accounted for 10 of GU’s first 16 points, including four shots from behind the arc during that stretch.
“[Kispert] has some very unselfish teammates,” Coach Mark Few said. “Those guards are looking for him and they’re doing things outside of our sets to get him going.”
Following Kispert’s spurt, it was Timme’s turn to carry the load offensively. The Texas native showed off his strength with a difficult contact layup, resulting in a three-point play opportunity. The next possession, Timme added another two points off a much easier close-range shot. He would finish the first half with 15 points.
The Zags’ duo alone proved to be too much for a historical stingy Cavaliers defense. Kispert and Timme’s offensive efforts matched that of UVA as a whole in the first half, with each scoring 31 points. The pair also combined for 11 made field goals, while the Cavaliers as a team made 12 total.
GU would head into the half leading 44-31 as Kispert and Timme accounted for the final 12 points for the Zags. Aside from the individual outputs from his leaders, Few also attributed the early success to the manner in which his team shared the ball.
“Most of our baskets, especially in the first 30 minutes, came off second and third actions,” Few said. “The guys did a wonderful job of playing with pace.”
Continuing first half-trends, the Bulldogs led by their stars maintained their dominant impact heading into the final 20 minutes. Kispert drilled back-to-back three-pointers moments after the break, while Timme wreaked havoc on the defensive end for the Cavaliers.
With a large advantage and less than 7 minutes to play, Kispert tied the program record for made three pointers in a game with nine while setting a new career-high in the process.
“He’s as good as shooter as I’ve ever coached,” Few said. “Nobody has worked as hard as Corey has to master his craft.”
Kispert joins former Zags Dan Dickau and Kevin Pangos as the only players in team history to make nine three-points in a game.
“I had no idea what the record was going in,” Kispert said. “It just kind of felt right and I shot the open shots.”
While UVA is known to stifle their competition with defense, it was GU that controlled the pace of the game right from the opening tip. Seconds after the jump ball, UVA’s Kihei Clark threw an errant pass out of bounds, which led to an easy layup for Anton Watson on the other end. GU forced another mistake on the next possession, as Kispert capitalized with a three pointer.
The Cavaliers would commit nine turnovers in the first half, a rarity for a team that came into the game averaging eight per game. GU took advantage by scoring 19 points off those UVA errors.
“I actually thought our defense was really good,” Few said.
GU returns to action Monday, Dec. 28th, when they take on Northern Arizona University in Spokane at 6 p.m. Fans can tune in to watch on either ROOT Sports or KHQ.