No. 8 Gonzaga dominates Mississippi Valley State
No. 8 Gonzaga's challenge in its 97-63 win over visiting Mississippi Valley State on Thursday night was to beat the Delta Devils while resisting the temptation to look ahead to its game against No. 16 Arizona on Saturday in Los Angeles.
"We had to stay focused," said guard Silas Melson, who tied Josh Perkins with a team-high 15 points against Mississippi Valley State. "We've got a big one coming up Saturday. We didn't want to overlook this one too much. This one here is good for our confidence and keep our mojo."
Melson and fellow guard Josh Perkins had 15 points each to lead the Bulldogs (7-0) against Mississippi Valley State (0-9). Gonzaga reserve forwards Zach Collins (13 points and nine rebounds) and Rui Hachimura (10 points and nine rebounds) were also top contributors along with point guard Nigel Williams-Goss (13 points and five assists).
Perkins scored all of his points in the first half, fueling the Bulldogs to a 49-28 halftime lead. He made 5 of his 6 attempts from 3-point range in the half.
Gonzaga made 12 of 32 from 3-point range (37.5 percent) after making 52.9 percent (9 of 17) from that range in the first half.
"It was a feeling I can't put into words," Perkins said of his first-half shooting performance. "I give credit to my teammates for finding me when I was hot. Without them, those shots aren't possible."
Mississippi Valley State guard Rashaan Surles had 13 points and seven rebounds while forward Amos Given had 14 points and center Terence Traylor added 11.
Perkins' 3-pointer with 3:22 left in the first half capped a 21-3 run that gave Gonzaga a 44-21 lead. Perkins made four shots from beyond the arc while Mississippi Valley State went 1-for-7 from the field with four turnovers in that stretch.
Gonzaga built a 21-point lead in the first half despite committing nine turnovers. The Bulldogs finished with 13.
"We tried to mix things up with our defenses, but they have too many weapons on offense," Mississippi Valley State coach Andre Payne said.
Mississippi Valley State had 12 of its 17 turnovers in the first half. The Delta Devils were outrebounded 45-34 and they made 42.9 percent (27 of 63) of their shots while making only 16.7 percent (3 of 18) from 3-point range.
Gonzaga made 50.7 percent (36 of 71) of its shots from the field. The Bulldogs tallied 23 assists.
"They were a little difficult to play against early on because of their zones, traps and rotations," Gonzaga coach Mark Few said of the Delta Devils. "It was good to see we had 15 assists on 18 made field goals in the first half and we took better care of the ball in the second half."
NOTES: Mississippi Valley State is in the midst of a 14-game road stretch before playing its first home game Jan. 7. The Delta Devils already have lopsided losses to Northwestern (94-63 score), West Virginia (107-66), Michigan State (100-53) and Indiana (85-52). ... Before Thursday night's game, Gonzaga was led in scoring by seven different players in six games. The players were G Silas Melson (17 vs. Utah Valley), G Jordan Mathews (17 vs. San Diego State), C Przemek Karnowski (22 vs. Bryant), Fs Johnathan Williams and Zach Collins (13 vs. Quinnipiac), G Josh Perkins (18 vs. Florida) and PG Nigel Williams-Goss (18 vs. Iowa State). ... Mississippi Valley State senior G Marcus Romain (only Delta Devil scorer averaging in double figures with 12.7 points a game) missed his sixth consecutive game with a knee injury.