The perfect revenge game doesn’t exi—. If you were wondering how the Gonzaga Bulldogs felt about that loss to Loyola Marymount on January 19, they showed a sold out crowd in Los Angeles with an epic 108-65 beatdown of the Lions.
The Zags have produced plenty of blowout victories over the years, but it’s not often that a team does it on the road against a team that beat them earlier in the year. There was no mistaking that the earlier loss played a big role in lighting a fire under the Gonzaga team that we saw take the floor in this game.
Julian Strawther produced another exceptional performance with a very efficient 30 points (10-15 FG, 6-8 3PT) in just 28 minutes. Four other Zags scored in double figures, with Nolan Hickman just missing out as the fifth. Anton Watson scored 14 of his 16 points in the first half, and all 12 of Rasir Bolton’s points came during the onslaught of the opening 20 minutes. Meanwhile, the Zags didn’t even need the WCC’s leading scorer in Drew Timme to contribute anything, though he added 11 of his 13 points in the second half just for good measure.
Gonzaga produced an outstanding defensive possession on the game’s opening possession to force LMU into a shot clock violation. That was immediately followed with a 3 from Strawther that helped take the bite out of a high energy crowd that was looking for a reprisal of the upset in Spokane. That sequence was a harbinger of things to come for the Lions.
LMU kept it close for about five seconds before Gonzaga reeled off a 20-0 run over the next five and a half minutes to turn the game into a 25-4 laugher and begin the healing from last month’s loss. The Lions looked shellshocked while the Zags kept their foot on the gas to make their point that they are still the dominant force in the WCC.
In the midst of it all was Strawther, as the junior wing was nearly unstoppable in the first half. He was so good that his 22 points during the first almost matched LMU’s team total of 28 points. He didn’t do it alone, as Watson, Bolton, and Hickman were also sensational while the entire squad produced at both ends of the floor to produce such a comprehensive win. Perhaps the most impressive aspect of such a scintillating first half was that the Zags produced a 40-point halftime margin (68-28) with Timme only contributing 2 points due to foul trouble that limited him to only 8 minutes of game time in the first half.
There was truly nowhere to go but down for Gonzaga after the team’s best half of basketball this season. The Zags cooled off a bit in the second half, but not before stretching their lead to as large as 51 points (89-38) which marked their largest lead against a DI team this season.
The LMU fans in the sold out crowd weren’t given much to cheer for, but they did get to see what it looks like when you make Gonzaga mad. Now the Zags just have to bottle up that feeling and reproduce it a few more times this season.