The reported bleacher malfunction might have spelled the ominous doom for the Pilots. Things weren't working before they even had a chance to get going. But the Pilots held strong for much of the first half, and went into halftime only trailing by nine.
A balanced scoring attack was too much for the Pilots to withstand in the second half. Kyle Wiltjer did his normal Kyle Wiljer thing and scored 15 points in the first half to lead all Zag scorers. But, for the first time in basically forever, he was also assisted by strong first offensive halves by Kyle Dranginis and Silas Melson, who each chipped in seven points.
The performance from Melson in front of his home town was the most welcome sight of the night. Melson chipped in six second half points to finish with 13 points, two rebounds and four assists. Most importantly, Melson looked confident on his drives to the hoop. He only attempted two three pointers and mainly focused on doing his damage near the rim.
Similar statements can be said for Dranginis, who finished with a season-high 16 points. Dranginis was 4-of-5 from beyond the arc and helped fuel a three-point barrage that Portland had no hope of surviving. Gonzaga shot 15-of-26 from beyond the arc in the game.
Wiltjer led all scorers with 21 points and Domantas Sabonis notched yet another double-double with 17 points and 11 rebounds. Josh Perkins noticed that everyone was on fire around him, and was content with dishing out the ball the best we have seen him do all season. Perkins finished with nine assists and just two turnovers.
Overall, Gonzaga moved the ball on the offensive end as well as we've seen them do it all season. The Zags finished with 22 assists off of 31 made field goals. On the defensive end, Portland never really had a chance to get things going. The Pilots were held to just 3-of-22 from three-point land and struggled to find offense all night long.
This was a solid game from the Zags, which is exactly what they needed for a multitude of reasons. First off, momentum is a lovely thing and now the Bulldogs have a slight bit of it going into Saturday's contest. Number two, Saint Mary's lost tonight and that is always a great thing. All in all, it was a WCC contest that we have always expected from past Gonzaga squads, and it seems like this team might be finally rounding into shape at the right moment. Come Saturday, we will truly find out.