Gonzaga closed out 2020 in dominant fashion, welcoming the Dixie State Trailblazers to Division I basketball with a 112-67 blowout.
Joel Ayayi was exceptional as he finished the evening with 21 points, 11 rebounds, and 6 assists, with the only thing stopping him from hitting a triple-double being Gonzaga’s big lead and the opportunity to get quality minutes for his younger teammates. Corey Kispert had another big offensive performance with 25 points (4-6 3PT FG) in a shooting clinic. Oumar Ballo had his best collegiate game as he went a perfect 6-6 from the field en route to a career high 17 points to go with 5 rebounds. Dominick Harris and Julian Strawther also put in strong shifts with 8 points apiece, with Harris adding 5 rebounds and 3 assists as well.
The Trailblazers kept it competitive through the first 10 minutes of the game with clean execution on the offensive end which allowed them to keep pace with their hosts. For a team that just made the jump up from Division II to Division I (though they were one of the best DII programs over the last few years), it was impressive to see them hang around with the nation’s top-ranked team for as long as they did.
But, Gonzaga has the likes of Ayayi and Kispert, and Dixie State does not. The veteran duo was unguardable. Ayayi once again flirted with a triple-double, while Kispert continued to burn the nets.
The Zags pulled away very quickly during the final stretch of the first half and the Lumberjacks had a front row seat to what the best offense in college basketball looks like. Dixie State likes to play an uptempo brand of basketball, but the Lumberjacks were at the receiving end of a transition offense clinic from the Zags who are the best at getting the ball quickly up the floor and putting the ball in the bottom of the net before the opposing defense can get set.
Gonzaga continued the offensive clinic in the second half. The bench had another opportunity to play extended minutes, and took advantage, as Ballo, Strawther, and Harris all flashed the qualities that make them key pieces to Gonzaga’s future.
Ballo played the best game of his brief career, embracing the physicality of college basketball and finishing an assortment of chances in the paint. You can see the traits that have the fan base dreaming of what he could be after a few years with the GU staff.
Gonzaga’s dominance even allowed an opportunity for the newest member of the team—Ben Gregg—to get his first taste of college basketball. It was a few minutes where we got a glimpse even further into Gonzaga’s future as the team took the last few dribbles of 2020.