On the basketball court, the Gonzaga Bulldogs had fun again. On the scoreboard, the Bulldogs cruised past Lewis-Clark State College 103-61. In the training room, the news was positive as well.
Senior guard Steven Gray left in the first half with Gonzaga well on its way to an easy nonconference victory in front of 6,000 Thursday at the McCarthey Athletic Center. There was additional concern when Gray left the bench to have his right big toe examined.
“I stubbed it,” Gray said afterward, sounding unconcerned. He said he would have played in the second half if the outcome was in doubt, but the Zags led by 21 at half and by 35 roughly 4 minutes into the second half. Gray expects to play in Saturday’s game against No. 9 Baylor in Dallas.
Gonzaga (5-5) ended a three-game losing streak by shooting 60.7 percent from the field, draining 12 3-pointers and handing out a season-high 27 assists. Eleven Bulldogs scored and six reached double figures, led by Elias Harris’ 19 points in 19 minutes of playing time.
“It’s really important to just have fun playing this game,” head coach Mark Few said. “I think sometimes, whether it’s the expectations or the grind of these games or the travel, we have a tendency to lose sight of that. We talked about that prior to the Notre Dame game.”
Gonzaga was leading 17-16 when Mathis Mönninghoff connected on the first of his five 3-pointers. Kelly Olynyk scored GU’s next nine points and a 3-pointer by David Stockton boosted the Bulldogs’ lead to 32-18. After 3-pointers by Harris and Mönninghoff in the final minute, Gonzaga led 52-31 at the half.
The Bulldogs made 12 of 16 free throws in the first half as LCSC committed 14 fouls.
“We went out and played a game we love to play,” said Olynyk, who had a career-high 14 points. “Everyone got in and everyone produced. It’s just a great feeling when the whole team contributes and gets a chance.”
Stockton, who had 10 points, two assists and a steal, played a team-high 24 minutes. Mönninghoff finished with 15 points – on 5-of-6 3-point shooting – in 23 minutes. Ten other Zags played between 10-19 minutes.
“We had a lot of fun,” said guard Marquise Carter, who had six assists and six points. “That was part of our problem at first. We were coming out and a lot of us worried about things, making mistakes. The coaches made it clear we have to play the game and have fun.”
Robert Sacre (13 points, all in the first half) and Sam Dower (12) also reached double digits. The two combined for seven blocked shots. Donte Roberts led the NAIA Warriors with 12 points. The game counted on GU’s record, but was considered an exhibition game for LCSC.
The Zags had a 65-25 advantage in bench points.
“Lost in all this is we haven’t been home very often and it was just nice to be able to work on some things and get some guys on the floor that deserve to get on the floor,” Few said. “They’ve been working really hard.”