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Gonzaga waltzes past Pacific, 86-66

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That game was a bit of a yawner.

NCAA Basketball: Gonzaga at Pacific Neville E. Guard-USA TODAY Sports

A strong first half put the Pacific Tigers down early, and the Gonzaga Bulldogs pulled within one game of an undefeated WCC run, winning 86-66 on Thursday evening.

Gonzaga held Pacific to just 6-of-26 shooting from the floor in the first half, taking a 39-20 lead into halftime. It was quite possibly the most dominant first half of defense this season, considering that nine of Pacific’s 20 points came from desperation three pointers as the shot clock expired.

Those desperation three pointers injected a bit of excitement into the game, which was sorely lacking for quite a bit of the 40 minutes. Gonzaga opened the game rather sloppily, taking a few minutes to gather their wits before continually pummeling Pacific down low. Both Brandon Clarke and Rui Hachimura finished with 13 points at half.

The second half was a bit of a different story. Pacific matched Gonzaga punch for punch for the better part of the second half, and Gonzaga’s defense looked a bit lackadaisical. Pacific was in the bonus with almost 10 minutes left in the second half, and unfortunately, a slow-paced game continued to slog on.

If there is a negative takeaway for the Zags, the defensive intensity in the second half would be it. Not that Gonzaga necessarily needed to keep redlining, especially considering the sorry state of affairs that is the Pacific Tigers’ offense, but Mark Few will not be happy with what transpired. Gonzaga, after holding Pacific to just 0.645 points per possession in the first half allowed Pacific to score over 1.3 in the second.

Overall, the post combo of Clarke and Hachimura was too much for yet another squad to handle. Rui finished with 27 points and Clarke registered another double-double, scoring 21 points and grabbing 13 rebounds.

To be perfectly honest, this was a rather boring game. Perhaps it is conference fatigue, but thank goodness Saint Mary’s is up on Saturday, After that, it only gets better.

A few more quick observations:

  • Mark Few went to Filip Petrusev rather early, and the results weren’t that great. Petrusev bobbled nearly every pass that came his way, one of which wasn’t necessarily his fault. His missed dunk in the second half probably has this as a game he would like to forget.
  • Killian Tillie partook in light warm-ups before the first time since he injured his foot. We might be looking closer than we think to a return of the talented junior forward.
  • Gonzaga scored 19 points off of turnovers in this game, showcasing the danger of this offense, especially when the defense is working. Even if teams try to slow it down, the Zags will always look to push the pace.