The Gonzaga Bulldogs held off a late rally from Iowa State, beating the Cyclones 73-71 and claiming the 2016 AdvoCare Invitational championship. No. 11 Gonzaga surged to a comfortable 18-point lead in the first half, but a furious 22-9 rally from Iowa State to open the second half kept things competitive until the final buzzer.
The Cyclones actually had an opportunity to win the game, coming out of a timeout with eight seconds left. Head coach Steve Prohm dialed up a play that would have given his team the go-ahead three-pointer, but Gonzaga sniffed it out and shut it down. Gonzaga had a foul to give and used it coming out of the timeout, knocking Iowa State off its game. Senior guard Monte Morris still had a chance to win it for the Cyclones when he launched a three-pointer with five seconds left, but his shot did not fall.
Gonzaga guard Nigel Williams-Goss, who led the Bulldogs with 18 points in the championship round, earned Tournament MVP honors.
Gonzaga has now won the AdvoCare Invitational in each of its three appearances: In 2008, 2012 and now 2016.
The Bulldogs faced the Quinnipiac Bobcats in the opening round and cruised to an 82-62 victory before facing the Florida Gators in the semifinals. Florida actually led Gonzaga by as many as 11 points in the first half, but the Bulldogs mounted a comeback and would win 77-72.
In the third place game, Florida faced the Miami Hurricanes and won 65-56.
The 11th annual AdvoCare Invitational, which is held over Thanksgiving Weekend (Nov. 24-27) and takes place at HP Field House at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at the Walt Disney World Resort, featured three teams that advanced to the Sweet 16 in last year’s NCAA Tournament – Gonzaga, Iowa State and Miami – as well as Big East champion Seton Hall. Other participants included Florida, which advanced to the third round of the NIT Postseason tournament last season, Indiana State, Quinnipiac and Stanford.
Xavier won the 2015 AdvoCare Invitational. Previous winners also include Kansas in 2014, Memphis in 2013, Gonzaga in 2008 and 2012, Dayton in 2011, Notre Dame in 2010, Florida State in 2009, NC State in 2007 and Arkansas in 2006.