4th-ranked Villanova beats No. 12 Gonzaga by 16 points at Madison Square Garden

It was Gonzaga’s biggest margin of defeat since an 84-61 loss to Arizona in the second round of the 2014 NCAA tournament.

NEW YORK – Mikal Bridges hit Gonzaga with a dunk that rocked Madison Square Garden and followed with a block that sapped the Zags’ spirit.

Against an NCAA title-game finalist and on national TV at a famed venue, Bridges had his coming-out performance as perhaps one of the top players in the country.

Check the replay of that sequence for confirmation.

“I just saw a lane and tried to go up and be strong,” Bridges said.

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Bridges made five three-pointers and scored a career-high 28 points to lead No. 4 Villanova to an 88-72 victory over No. 12 Gonzaga in the Jimmy V Classic on Tuesday night.

The Wildcats (9-0) flexed their muscle and proved they are again national-championship contenders in their first real test of the season.

“They put it on us pretty good,” Zags coach Mark Few said.

Indeed, it was Gonzaga’s biggest margin of defeat since an 84-61 loss to Arizona in the second round of the 2014 NCAA tournament.

Zach Norvell Jr. led Gonzaga (7-2) with 22 points on 8-for-12 shooting, and Josh Perkins added 16 points.

Villanova, listed as a 4½-point favorite, was in front 43-30 at halftime and led by as many as 19.

“When you schedule like this and play games like this, you, for lack of a better term, expose your guys,” Few was quoted as saying in The Spokesman-Review. “And we learned some things. I told them after the game, we have to start valuing the little things. We have to. They hurt us today on the details. The turnovers, literally, came in every way, shape and form. It was foot faults, it was putting your head down and running a guy over, it was three seconds in the key, it was not being strong with the ball, a bad screen, you name it.

“It’s not just one thing you can drill out. But we have to value those things because they go a long ways toward winning. And we obviously have to start guarding the three-line better.”

Villanova made 10 of 21 three-point attempts (47.6 percent), compared with 6 of 22 (27.3 percent) for Gonzaga. The Zags made 19 turnovers, seven more than the Wildcats.

Bridges, a 6-foot-7 junior swingman, put on a show in front of numerous NBA scouts. His defining moments came in the second half: Bridges unleashed a monster right-handed dunk over 6-11 Zags center Jacob Larsen. Perkins…

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