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Dominant showing on the glass bolsters already red-hot offense

NCAA Basketball: Howard at Gonzaga James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

Tuesday night’s game in the Kennel may have been everything you’d expect with this program facing a struggling Howard University that’s 53-109 over the last five seasons and now 0-3 to begin this year.

But more importantly the game showed the points of emphasis this team has had over it’s historic run: crashing the offensive boards and making that extra pass. Nine different Gonzaga players recorded an assist, with Perkins’ 6 dishes leading the way.

The Zags took advantage of a young Howard team, who were led by freshman point guard RJ Cole and sophomore CJ Williams, with both struggling with a lengthier Zags defense that made driving a futile endeavor. Cole entered the game averaging 25 points per game and was held to 16 points off of 5-17 from the field.

The game started with Josh Perkins nailing yet another right wing three pointer, followed by the Zags interior nabbing three offensive rebounds in one possession. By the first media timeout, The Zags led 12-3 with 5 offensive rebounds while the Bison were held without a defensive rebounds.

The Bison tasked CJ Williams, 6-foot-5 junior Jalen Jones and 6-foot-7 freshman Zion Cousins with the job of slowing down the lengthy Gonzaga front court and it worked about as well as you’d imagine.

The Zags’ out-rebounded the Bison 51 to 33. As mentioned above, the Zags benefited greatly from grabbing 17 offensive rebounds throughout the game. The offense was once again on a torrid pace, passing the century mark for the first time this season.

The Zags have reached the Taco Bell Taco threshold for the Kennel twice already this season, making 14 tonight and shooting 40 percent. Josh Perkins looms on the right wing, knocking all three of his made buckets from the right shoulder of the arc.

Johnathan Williams contributed an ever-consistent 12 points and 9 rebounds on the night, and surpassed the 1,000 point collegiate career milestone in the first half. 425 of his 1,010 points have come as a Zag.

And the lanes were wide open for the Bulldogs as Rui Hachimura, Zach Norvell, Jacob Larsen, Johnathan Williams and Jeremy Jones had clear pathways to massive dunks. Even when challenged, Hachimura racked up 6 points off of a couple and-one plays (one you may be seeing make the rounds on certain highlight packages).

Larsen showed off his toolkit in his 20 minutes of work. The Danish big man racked up 9 points, 9 rebounds and 4 assists. Larsen proved he can play in this fast paced offense, facilitating, scrapping and playing within himself. It will be interesting to watch Larsen as he starts playing bigger front courts moving forward.

The game seemed sluggish at times due to both teams racking up fouls in the first half, with both teams reaching the bonus in the first half and Gonzaga seeing several driving scores nullified by charge calls.

Norvell’s motor shined late in the second half, playing through the end as the Zags saw their lead hover between 35-40 points. Norvell led the transition offense and found himself nabbing plenty of 50-50 loose balls. Norvell led all scorers with 18 points.

Kispert’s second start in as many games showed the same offensive polish he showcased in the Texas Southern opener, this time scoring 13 points and grabbing five rebounds (all offensive). He did show a couple freshman hiccups in picking up his man late at the top of the arc, however.

Tonight’s matchup served as the penultimate refresher before the level of competition levels up. The Saturday matchup against the Utah State Aggies serves as the Zags final dress rehearsal before the Phil Knight Invitational.