The No. 1-ranked Gonzaga Bulldogs closed out the non-conference portion of their schedule with a 93-72 win over the Detroit Mercy Titans and moved to a near-perfect 14-1 record.
Ryan Woolridge put together his most complete game of the season, scorching the Titans defense with 21 points (including a perfect 6-6 FG in the first half), 8 assists, and 6 rebounds while also tasked with slowing down Detroit Mercy’s Antoine Davis who entered the game third in the country in points per game. Filip Petrusev (22 points and 6 rebounds), Drew Timme (13 points and 7 rebounds), and Anton Watson (11 points) feasted on the soft interior defense of Detroit Mercy. Timme got the spot start for Killian Tillie who was available but held out of action for “load management” with two more games on the schedule later this week.
Detroit Mercy was led by Davis who lived up to his billing with 31 points on 11-23 shooting, as he took advantage of the complete freedom afforded to him at the offensive end by his coaches. Justin Miller added 17 points, and Chris Brandon chipped in a double-double with 10 points and 12 rebounds.
Picking up where it left off against Eastern Washington, the Zags once again showed why they are the top offense in the country as they operated like a well oiled-machine en route to 73.1% shooting in the first half and a 54-37 lead at the break. Despite being shorthanded, the frontcourt dominated an overmatched Detroit Mercy defense that was incapable of denying the ball from entering the post. On the perimeter, Woolridge went with the scorched earth approach and continued to make teams pay for sagging off on him, and Admon Gilder continues to nurse his shooting touch back to form.
Though the offense was prolific for most of the evening, Gonzaga’s defense continues to be underwhelming. Without Tillie’s presence on the floor, it wasn’t surprising to see a dropoff in the unit’s performance level, but with or without him there are persistent areas of concern in terms of communication in rotations and when/where to help.
Antoine Davis caught fire in the second half when he scored 20 of his 31 points, which helps Detroit Mercy’s overall numbers, but there were still far too many uncontested shots available for the rest of the Titans when the Zags were caught out of position.
With the season at its midway point, the strengths and weaknesses of the squad are apparent. While Gonzaga is the No. 1 team in the country for good reason, there is still room for growth for this team. That’s an exciting prospect for its fans, and should be a concern for the rest of the country.