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Gonzaga Cruise Past the Santa Clara Broncos 88-70

Gonzaga’s home winning streak stands at one and Drew Timme scores his 2000th point: bring on the Gaels

NCAA Basketball: Santa Clara at Gonzaga James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

Wearing Bill Russell #6 T-shirts over their jerseys in warm-ups, Gonzaga easily handled the Santa Clara Broncos 88-70. It was a solid wire-to-wire effort by Gonzaga who jumped out strong early and kept the lead throughout the game. I’ve waited a long time to write this, Gonzaga was led by Anton Watson’s 18 points on a remarkable 8 for 8 from the field. He also filled up the stat sheet with 6 rebounds, 4 assists, and a steal. Drew Timme had 14 points, including the 2000th of his career to go along with a team leading 10 rebounds. Santa Clara was led by crafty and talented guard Carlos Stewart with 22 points and several players led with 4 rebounds each.

The first half was all Gonzaga and they led 43-24 at the break. Off to one of their best starts in recent memory, Gonzaga hit five of their first six shots in the first four minutes of play. Despite Drew Timme struggling, 2 for 7 at halftime, Gonzaga dominated the paint scoring 28 to 4 and the boards 22 to 14.

Timme wasn’t the only star to struggle in the first half, Santa Clara’s leading scorer Brandin Podziemski was 1 for 7. In the opening two minutes, he twice came off a high ball screen but was met by Anton Watson who shut him down.

For the first time I can remember in a competitive game, I saw Efton Reid, Ben Gregg, Hunter Sallis and Malachi Smith on the floor in the first 10 minutes of play. In fact, Efton Reid entered the game a second time in the first half drawing praise from Brian Michaelson during the halftime interview for his solid defense.

Santa Clara came out much sharper and more motivated in the second half but still couldn’t cut the lead to single digits despite Podziemski playing much better and Carlos Stewart being great all night. The Zags continued to spread the wealth on offense and had a spectacular effort on the defensive end.

Santa Clara was held 40% shooting from the field, 33% from three and Poziemski, their high scorer, was held to 14 points on 4 of 14 shooting.

Sure Gonzaga beat Pepperdine and blew-out Portland in their first meeting, but this was probably the Zags best conference game against a solid and dangerous top 100 team. St. Mary’s has looked very beatable in their past two games and if Gonzaga plays like they did tonight, they can do it.