No. 20 Gonzaga routs Santa Clara
Everybody got in on the act as Gonzaga put on a clinic on both ends of the court Saturday night.
Silas Melson scored 19 points to lead seven different Zags in double figures, and No. 20 Gonzaga rolled to an easy 101-52 win over Santa Clara on Saturday at the McCarthey Athletic Center in Spokane, Wash.
Zach Norvell Jr. (14 points), Josh Perkins (12), Jeremy Jones (11), Rui Hachimura (11), Jacob Larson (10) and Corey Kispert (10) all topped 10 points for the Bulldogs, who forced 21 turnovers.
Forward Killian Tillie could have been an eighth Bulldogs player with double-digit scoring, but he missed several minutes after tweaking his ankle (“nothing big,” he said).
“Sharing the ball, don’t care who scores, just passing and doing the extra pass,” Tillie said. “It’s fun to play like that.”
The Zags had all the fun from the outset.
Gonzaga (12-3, 2-0 WCC) raced to a 22-4 lead, pushed its advantage to 27 at halftime and to 40 nine minutes into the second half.
Santa Clara coach Herb Sendek was succinct in his assessment: “I just thought we got annihilated.”
Sendek’s team trailed by 52 before a late 3-pointer by the Broncos’ Matt Turner finished off the scoring.
The Zags’ offensive efficiency was off the charts as they had 28 assists with just seven turnovers. Perkins and Norvell each dished out eight assists.
“I think the guards are slowing down a bit, letting the game come to us, not trying to force anything,” Norvell said.
Still, Gonzaga coaches, weary of the team’s struggles with ball protection this season, found some fault.
“We took great care of the ball,” Gonzaga assistant coach Brian Michaelson told Root Sports at halftime. “The frustrating thing, the three turnovers were really silly ones. Other than that, we were great.”
Gonzaga has just 14 turnovers in their first two WCC games of the season.
“Even in the second half (with a large lead), we played the game the right way,” Bulldogs coach Mark Few said. “A big lead like that, just seven turnovers. It was a good weekend for taking care of the ball. A good weekend for our defense.
“We really wanted to guard the 3-line and the guys did a nice job.”
The Bulldogs led 81-38 after a 19-2 run that saw them force four Santa Clara turnovers during a five-minute stretch.
Santa Clara’s 21 turnovers were the most by a Gonzaga opponent this season.
“I believe defense always turns into offense,” Melson said. “If you’re bringing energy on defense, things will open up on offense.”
Gonzaga’s bench outscored the Broncos’ reserves 44-9, and the Bulldogs limited Santa Clara to just six rebounds on the offensive end.
Emmanuel Ndumanya scored a team-high 12 points, and KJ Feagin added nine points and six assists for Santa Clara (4-10, 1-1), which shot 37.8 percent from the floor.
Melson slowed Feagin, who averages more than 18 points.
Perkins made back-to-back 3-pointers to open the game, and the Bulldogs sprinted to a 15-0 lead.
The Broncos committed eight turnovers in the first 11 minutes, and the Zags had a 15-5 advantage in points off turnovers in the first half.
The Zags led 33-10 after a Perkins 3-pointer 7:31 before halftime.
Gonzaga had 16 assists on 20 made baskets in the first half and was 8-for-8 on two-pointers to start the game.
The Bulldogs topped 100 points for the fifth time this season, besting their previous record of four in the 1963-64 season.
The Zags play at Pepperdine on Thursday, while Santa Clara will be at Loyola Marymount to take on the Lions.
NOTES: Santa Clara junior G KJ Feagin came in averaging 18.7 points per game, second in the WCC to Jock Landale of Saint Mary’s. ... Gonzaga F Corey Kispert continues to recover from an ankle injury suffered against Incarnate Word. The freshman played 23 minutes on Saturday, his most since the Nov. 29 injury. ... Gonzaga has beaten Santa Clara 14 straight times and has won 38 of the past 40 meetings.