Gonzaga coach Mark Few is no stranger to a box score.
Few quickly assessed the reasons the 11th-ranked Bulldogs lost Monday in the first round of the Maui Invitational — and he hopes to correct those issues Tuesday when Gonzaga takes on Syracuse in Honolulu.
Gonzaga (2-1) took its first defeat Monday against No. 2 Purdue as the Boilermakers rallied from a five-point halftime deficit to top the Bulldogs 73-63.
Few’s team shot just 6 of 32 from 3-point range (18.8 percent) as part of a 37.7 percent shooting display overall, and the Bulldogs finished with more turnovers (14) than assists (13).
“I think if you look at the threes we took, they were all good shots,” Few said. “I don’t know that we took any bad ones during that stretch. Obviously, that was a fairly big factor. I thought the bigger factor was that we just turned the ball over too much.”
Nolan Hickman led the team with four turnovers and also shot just 5 of 14 from the field while scoring 11 points. Ryan Nembhard hit 5 of 17 overall, including 1 of 9 from long distance, and turned it over twice while also finishing with 11 points.
The Bulldogs’ backcourt hopes to regroup against an Orange defense that gave up 43 second-half points to No. 7 Tennessee a first-round loss on Monday. Yet, first-year Syracuse coach Adrian Autry wasn’t upset with his team’s defensive effort.
“I thought we played well for a big part of the game defensively,” Autry said. “Overall, I thought we competed and battled. We’ve got to get better rebounding the ball.”
Indeed, Syracuse was outrebounded 48-33 by the Volunteers and allowed 13 offensive boards in the 73-56 defeat.
Chris Bell led the Orange with 16 points, while Judah Mintz chipped in 15 points. Syracuse shot only 35 percent from the floor and 30 percent (6 of 20) from beyond the arc. An 8-of-17 effort from the foul line didn’t help matters, either.
“We’ve got to continue to be more consistent. We’ve got to swing those defensive efforts together and the ball and offensively we’ll get better. I’m not worrying about the offense,” Autry said.
The Orange have participated in this event three times previously and won the event in all three of those years (1990, 1998 and 2013). They can’t win another title this year, but Bell believes the team has the talent to compete with great squads from the past.
“I feel like we could be one of the top teams in the country once we lock in and focus,” Bell said. “If we can do that for 40 minutes, it’s going to be tough to beat us.”
Few certainly took note of the eight-team field at the Maui Invitational, which is taking place in Honolulu after the devastating wildfires in Maui earlier this year. The participating squads are No. 1 Kansas, No. 4 Marquette, UCLA and Chaminade in addition to Gonzaga, Syracuse, Tennessee and Purdue.
“This is far and away the best field I’ve ever seen,” Few said earlier in the week.
Syracuse and Gonzaga haven’t met since a pair of NCAA Tournament matchups in 2010 and 2016, both won by the Orange.
–Field Level Media