Killian Tillie and Corey Kispert were the stars of the show on Thursday night. Tillie matched and Kispert registered career highs in points as the Gonzaga Bulldogs coasted to an easy victory over the Portland Pilots, 95-79.
The game was never really in question. Gonzaga was able to build an early lead and kept pace for the rest of the game. The Pilots gave a solid effort, finding some good looks from Marcus Shaver, which should bode well for Portland’s future. Ultimately, it was never going to be enough.
The Gonzaga offense was just too much to handle. Tillie matched his career high 27 points on a ridiculously efficient night that saw him driving to the hoop with ease. Tillle went 10-of-12 from two point and drained a three for added insult.
Kispert’s night was perhaps the most encouraging. The freshman winger for Gonzaga had been mired in a bit of a rough stretch, scoring just three points in his past three games. Kispert exploded for 23 points, feeling loose to shoot some threes (a lot of threes, he attempted 10) and padding the rest of the box score with what Gonzaga fans have come to quickly expect from the freshman.
The Zags played a crisp and clean game without a whole lot of hiccups. They attacked the offensive glass, gathering 15 offensive rebounds and outrebounding Portland 40-25. The game was out of question early enough that Mark Few was able to give some solid minutes to the rest of the bench in the second half.
Silas Melson, in his final swan song game in Portland, had an unassuming 14 points, and did a bit of fancy ball distribution, registering six assists. Overall, the Zags played the tempo of play and the style of play that puts to rest any question about the disparity between the upper and lower teams in the WCC.
If you want to really force the issue and find a dull spot, Rui Hachimura finally turned in a bad game in conference play. Rui has been the Zags best player since WCC play started, averaging 15.3 points on 66.7 percent shooting from the floor. Tonight, he wasn’t quite that, and showed that he still has a bit of growing to reach that full potential. Rui finished with just two points and four turnovers, and struggled to really establish himself against a Portland team that he scored 20 points against just a few weeks ago.
Such is the life of WCC play, however. Rui has been stellar throughout conference play and he is allowed a hiccup or two. The most important takeaway from the game was Kispert’s solid offensive play, a resurgent Tillie running the floor like we all know he can, and another tidy game from Perkins. Perkins finished with 11 points and three threes, and most importantly, only one turnover.
The Zags were expected to clean up against Portland and they did just that. Up next, a home contest against San Francisco.