The Gonzaga Bulldogs end 2018 with their 33rd victory of the calendar year by defeating the CSU Bakersfield Roadrunners 89-54. The Roadrunners are known for their swarming defense, but it was the Gonzaga defense, including an impressive ¾ court press that made the difference in the game. The Zags held the Roadrunners to 35.6 % from the field with 20 turnovers. Despite the 35-point victory, the Roadrunners played hard throughout the game.
Gonzaga had five players in double figures scoring tonight, led by Rui with 22, Brandon Clark and Zach Norvell with 16 each, Jeremy Jones with 11 and Josh Perkins with 10. CSU Bakersfield was led by Jarkel Joiner with 24 points. Jeremy Jones led the Zags with 10 rebounds and Zach Norvell led with 5 assists.
The Roadrunners started the game by using most of the shot clock on each of their early possessions to disrupt the Gonzaga offense. It worked for much of the 1st half as the Zags shot around 25% from the field for most of the 1st half. It took 11 first half Roadrunner turnovers and Jeremy Jones to allow Gonzaga to break out of their shooting slump and lead by 19 at the half. Jones had the best half of his career with 10 points, 7 rebounds an assist and a block. The assist was a spectacular clock-beating pass to Brandon Clarke who made a runner in the lane to end the half.
The Zags turned up the heat in the 2nd half, shooting 57.7% from the field and 50% from the arc to ensure an easy victory. Despite the Roadrunners playing tough “D” throughout the game, the Zags made 8 three-pointers in the 2nd half, 10 for the game, with seldom used freshman Matthew Lang making the final three to allow the fans free tacos.
After completing the “nation’s second toughest non-conference schedule” at 13 – 2, Gonzaga fans can look forward to having the nation’s most potent offense getting even better with the return of Killian Tillie and Geno Crandall. The defense should also improve as minutes are more evenly distributed and another shot blocker (Tillie) will be available to help Clarke guard the rim. Jeremy Jones impressive play will keep him in the rotation throughout the year and Filip Petrusev will be available to spot the bigs allowing GU to go nine deep the rest of the season. Things are looking great for 2019 Zag fans, and here’s hoping each and every one of you has a happy and prosperous new year.