Josh Perkins led the Gonzaga Bulldogs to a 92-64 win over Pepperdine in a record setting night as he took his place as Gonzaga’s all-time assists leader. The now former assists leader, Matt Santangelo, was in the crowd to applaud the accomplishment and pass the torch after holding the distinction for the last 19 years.
Considering the immense talents that Gonzaga has fielded at the point guard position over the last few decades, it is a monumental achievement to be the guy sitting at the top of the mountain and a testament to Perkins’ talent, dedication, and continuous growth as he helped steer Gonzaga to new heights during his time with the program. It’s fitting that he was able to secure the record at home in The Kennel, and he will be honored for his accomplishment on Senior Night this Saturday.
Perkins just missed out on a double-double with 10 points and 9 assists, though Brandon Clarke picked one up with 16 points, 11 rebounds, and 5 blocks as he continues to pad his own program record for blocks in a single season. Rui Hachimura (23 Points) and Zach Norvell (21 points) led the way in the scoring department.
While it ended up being a big night, the Zags didn’t race out of the gate, falling behind 7-2 in the first three minutes as they struggled to calibrate their shooting. As has been the case for most of the season, however, Clarke and Rui got things going for Gonzaga as they combined for a quick 9-0 run to take a lead that would not be relinquished for the rest of the evening.
Any hope that Pepperdine had of maintaining a foothold in the game disappeared when Colbey Ross landed on the bench with foul trouble just seven minutes into the game. Gonzaga’s lead quickly ballooned from there, prompting Romar to reinsert his floor general back into the game, but by that point Gonzaga was two steps ahead and rapidly pulling further away to get to the half with a 53-33 lead.
Gonzaga didn’t miss a beat to start the second half, as Kispert resumed affairs with a three immediately followed up by a block at the other end. The Zags pushed their lead as high as 33 points before allowing Pepperdine to slowly crawl back into the game with some sloppy play. The score was secondary, however, as the focus of the second half was Perkins assist watch since he sat tied for the record with Matt Santangelo at the break. Perkins remained there for 12 excruciating minutes into the second half, until a lob to Clarke secured his place in Gonzaga’s history.
Norvell and Hachimura were unguardable in the first half combining for 38 points, with Norvell at one point reeling off a personal 10-0 run in less than two minutes. But the man feeding Norvell, Rui, and everyone else for their buckets gets the biggest star of the night as he masterfully ran the show en route to securing his place as Gonzaga’s greatest distributor of the ball.
670 assists and counting. We’ve enjoyed each and every one of them, Josh.