March Madness: Drew Timme ignites Gonzaga comeback, Florida Atlantic advances to first Elite 8

By Sports Desk March 24, 2023

Gonzaga Bulldogs center Drew Timme was a man amongst boys as he carried his side to a comeback 79-76 victory over the two-seed UCLA Bruins in Thursday's Sweet 16 action at the NCAA Tournament.

Timme, a senior, was named a consensus First-Team All-American this year after back-to-back Second-Team selections in his sophomore and junior seasons.

While his career at Gonzaga has been littered with individual honours, the six-foot-10 fringe NBA prospect looked destined to end his run as a Bulldog without capturing their elusive first National Championship as they trailed 46-33 at half-time.

But Timme would not let three-seed Gonzaga go down quietly, putting together a monstrous 36 points on 16-of-24 shooting while adding 13 rebounds, four assists and two blocks to turn their deficit into a 72-62 lead with 2:30 remaining.

UCLA's Jaime Jaquez Jr made things interesting with a quick eight-point burst on his way to a team-high 29 (12-of-25 shooting), 11 rebounds, three assists and three steals, setting up Amari Bailey for a three-pointer to put the Bruins back in front 76-75 with 13 seconds on the clock.

With the game on the line, Julian Strawther drained the clutch three to give Gonzaga the lead and the win, booking their fifth Elite 8 trip from the past eight editions of the tournament.

Gonzaga will face the four-seed Connecticut Huskies next after they wiped the floor with the eight-seed Arkansas Razorbacks 88-65.

It was another strong performance from UConn's top NBA prospect Jordan Hawkins, as the lanky six-foot-five wing dropped a game-high 24 points on six-of-13 shooting with three assists, marking the third tournament game in a row he has drained at least three three-pointers.

The nine-seed Florida Atlantic Owls are through to their first Elite 8 in school history after upsetting the four-seed Tennessee Volunteers 62-55.

The Owls came into the tournament at 31-3, and while there were questions about their strength of schedule, they have continued to prove they are one of college basketball's best teams this year, holding Tennessee to just 33 per cent shooting.

Florida Atlantic will play Kansas State in the next stage after the Wildcats survived a thrilling 98-93 overtime battle against Tom Izzo's Michigan State Spartans.

Five-foot-eight Wildcats point guard Markquis Nowell played the game of his life, ending up with 20 points (seven-of-18 shooting), 19 assists, five steals and just two turnovers in his 43 minutes. 

He joins Chris Paul and James Harden as the only players from either division one college basketball or the NBA in the past decade to put up a game of at least 20 points, 15 assists and five steals.

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