After three tough road wins, Gonzaga returned home to the friendly confines of the Kennel and completely demolished the Portland pilots 115 - 75. GU was led by Malachi Smith with 27 points including a very impressive 7 for 10 from deep. Drew Timme, who sat the last 16 minutes, added 18 points, Anton Watson had 12 points and 7 rebounds while Hunter Sallis dropped 7 dimes. Portland was led by Moses Wood with 18 points and Kristian Sjolund grabbed 12 rebounds.
The game was essentially over by the end of the first half with the Zags taking a 61 – 28 lead into the locker room. Gonzaga finally exerted themselves on defense and Portland’s offense never got synchronized. The Pilots missed their first 10 three-point attempts, committed 12 first half turnovers, 7 from steals, resulting in 26 Gonzaga points.
On the defensive end, Portland seemed intent on stopping Timme and packed the paint with four players every time he touched the ball. It obviously didn’t work. Forsaking perimeter defense allowed the Zags to hit nine first half three pointers on 53% shooting from beyond the arc. Gonzaga did a great job distributing the ball with 11 first half assists.
Gonzaga started the second half on cruise control and the most exciting part was taco watch. After Anton Watson picked up his third foul, Mark Few tried a four-guard line-up with Timme, Bolton, Sallis, Smith and Hickman. Watson subbed for Timme and the “smallest ball” line-up had a solid run.
As Gonzaga extended the lead to forty, the game turned into a three-point shooting contest (Gonzaga won 17 - 11). The only drama was who would be the first team to empty their bench. Dom Harris and Efton Reid entered the game at with 6:50 to play and we got a glimpse of a potential next year’s line-up with Reid, Gregg, Sallis, Harris and Smith (one more year Malachi). Abe Eagle put a smile on my face, entering the game with a minute to play and hitting his only shot.
Gonzaga ended the game with an impressive 12 steals and 22 assists.
The respite from tight game should continue next week as Gonzaga take on LMU at 6:00 p.m. Thursday and Pacific at 7:00 p.m. Saturday. Both games will be on KHQ so we should be treated to our favorite announcing trio.