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Arizona falters in second half, loses to Gonzaga in Maui Invitational semis

<span data-author="5158751">arizona-wildcats-substitutions-starters-college-basketball-sean-miller </span> Photo by Darryl Oumi/Getty Images

Justin Coleman tied a career-high with 28 points, but the Gonzaga Bulldogs used a dominant second half to top the Arizona Wildcats 91-74 on Tuesday in the Maui Invitational semifinals.

Coleman drilled a 3 to put Arizona up by 13 less than a minute into the second half, but Gonzaga roared back with a 19-3 run to take a 56-53 lead with 12 minutes to play.

Coleman, who was 6 for 9 from distance, sank yet another 3 to tie it, then another to give UA a 61-60 lead with nine minutes to go. Gonzaga outscored Arizona 31-13 from there, catching fire from the perimeter after struggling from distance in the first half.

The Bulldogs shot 58 percent in the second half, including a scathing 7 for 18 from 3. Meanwhile, the turnovers piled up for the Wildcats, who committed 11 of their 16 giveaways in the final 20 minutes.

Zach Norvell Jr., who missed his first nine shots, exploded for 17 second-half points, including a trio of 3s.

It didn’t help Arizona that Chase Jeter fouled out with 12 minutes left after picking up a loose ball foul and a technical foul for arguing the call. That forced the Wildcats to play small and Gonzaga wound up outscoring them 42-26 in the paint and 16-2 in second-chance opportunities.

Coleman was 7 for 12 from the field, but the Wildcats only shot 41 percent as a team. Brandon Randolph (19) and Brandon Williams (15) combined for 34 points on 25 shots.

Arizona only got nine points from its bench and Ryan Luther was held scoreless, taking only two shots. Jeter had three points and five rebounds in 19 minutes before fouling out.

The Wildcats led 45-37 at the half after a back and forth 20 minutes, in which there were 15 ties and 16 lead changes.

Arizona built a seven-point lead after an up-and-under by Jeter and later extended it to 39-29 after four free throws by Williams and Coleman.

Arizona did not make a field goal in the final 5:52 of the first half, but it didn’t matter because the Wildcats sank 19 of 22 free throws in the period.

Coleman, who scored 15 second-half points Monday, picked up right where he left off, dropping 17 points in the first half on just six shots.

Not only did the fouls stack up for the Zags in the first half — they committed 16 — so did the turnovers. Gonzaga had 10 turnovers in the first 20 minutes, which led to eight Arizona points, including a breakaway slam for Randolph.

Six Bulldogs had two or more fouls in the first half, including four of their five starters. Star forward Rui Hachimura only played 11 minutes as a result.

But Gonzaga cleaned up its defense, Arizona only took eight free throws in the second half, Hachimura finished with 24 points, and the Zags only committed two second-half turnovers.

Arizona will face No. 8 Auburn at 9:30 p.m. MST on Wednesday for third place. Gonzaga will take on No. 1 Duke in the championship game.