The Gonzaga Bulldogs put together exactly the dominant sort of team effort one would expect against a sub-300 KenPom team, easily dispatching Northern Arizona, 95-49, on Monday night.
From the very beginning, it looked like the three-point barrage from Texas Tech would continue. The Zags’ first possession resulted in Drew Timme’s second made three of the season. Chet Holmgren followed with a couple more three-pointers when the Northern Arizona defenders absolutely refused to respect his range from beyond the arc.
For Gonzaga fans, the onslaught of threes was nice to see. Pretty much everyone got in on the action, including Hunter Sallis, who hit the first three of his collegiate career. Ultimately, Gonzaga shot 10-for-22 from three.
With the game largely in hand about midway through the first half, Mark Few opened up the bench much earlier, and we saw plenty of examples of why the future in Spokane is bright for the future. Sallis, on top of hitting the three, put together probably his most complete game this season. He was an absolute dog on defense and showcased some of that offensive potential.
Holmgren (a member of said youth although we will definitely not see him next season) put together a very strong effort. He led the Zags with 20 points and grabbed nine rebounds. His three-point shot was on fluid as ever, and perhaps, most importantly, he only turned the ball over one time.
Player of the game, without a doubt, has to go to Anton Watson. Watson had his best game of the season, which seems like something we are saying more and more over the past couple of weeks. Watson scored 17 points on 6-of-7 shooting and was aggressive as ever, attacking Northern Arizona and hitting the line. He missed a couple of free throws, but made up for it by getting the rebound and the subsequent putbacks.
Northern Arizona’s Jalen Cone got off to a hot start, hitting four threes in the first half and scoring 17 points. The undersized guard was electric, but credit to the Gonzaga defensive switch in the second half. The Zags kept a man glued to him the entirety of the second half, and Cone was held to 1-of-6 shooting and just two points in the final 20 minutes.
Northern Arizona is not a good team, but it was still important to see the Zags close with a solid and consistent effort before the holiday break. Turnovers, which had plagued the Zags earlier in the non-conference were non-existent. The three-point shot continued to establish itself as something perhaps consistent. Andrew Nembhard had nine points in 22 minutes. Even Kaden Perry made a showing for the first time since a back injury sidelined him a few weeks ago. Ben Gregg drained a couple of threes.
All in all, this is exactly the game we needed to see from Gonzaga at this point in the season. They took a strong game against Texas Tech and carried the momentum 48 hours later.