Gonzaga has played four games this season and it feels like each time, fans and pundits alike are left saying “wow” for new reasons. Today, after not playing for 17 days and practicing as a team two times in 11 days, the top-ranked Bulldogs came out and dismantled the third-ranked Iowa Hawkeyes, 99-88.
If there were any questions about rust, they were answered after the first five minutes. Following a relatively slow start, Gonzaga outscored Iowa 41-23 in the final 14:30 of the first half. It was a shooting clinic from the Zags, who haven’t shot well from deep all season. They connected on a whopping 10 triples in the half with Jalen Suggs leading the way, hitting five of them as part of an 18-point first half outburst. The Zags had 12 assists on 19 made buckets. Luka Garza was 6-for-8 from the field, but the rest of the Hawkeyes were a combined 10-for-27, including 2-for-10 from deep.
Gonzaga stretched the lead to 20 early in the second half. Iowa kept within a long arm’s reach, at one point cutting the lead to single digits with Corey Kispert and Drew Timme on the bench. But Aaron Cook and Suggs both hit dagger threes to end any Iowa hopes. Cook was tremendous off the bench, scoring nine points and dishing a couple assists.
It was a well-rounded effort from the whole roster. Suggs led the way with 27 points and was flanked by four others in double figures. One of those was Joel Ayayi, who was on triple-double watch the whole morning, finishing with 11 points, 18 rebounds, and six assists. He’s only the eighth Gonzaga player in history to grab at least 18 rebounds in a game.
In Iowa’s first game away from home, they shot 4-for-21 from deep after connecting on 12 threes per game at a 40 percent clip in their first six games. Garza’s 30-point, 10-rebound performance was not enough to overcome that cold effort from distance. By contrast, Gonzaga, who hit 16 total triples in their first games, went 13-for-26.
Gonzaga will head back to Spokane a happy bunch, now 4-0 on the season. They host Northwestern State on Monday night in their first home game of the year. That should be a good chance to get an extended look at Dominick Harris and Julian Strawther, who both provided quality first half minutes today.