This went pretty much how Gonzaga drew it up – for Saturday’s 77-60 win over scrappy San Diego and for its men’s basketball season in general.
The Bulldogs pounded San Diego inside as Robert Sacre, Elias Harris and Sam Dower combined for 48 points and GU (16-3, 6-1) used a 41-27 advantage on the boards to post its third consecutive West Coast Conference win, the latest in front of another full house of 6,000 Saturday at the McCarthey Athletic Center.
Sacre had a season-high 11 rebounds and Harris grabbed 13 boards. Gonzaga piled up a 42-30 advantage in paint points
“They were good, back engaging people,” Bulldogs coach Mark Few said of his three interior players. “In the three games we lost, we weren’t very good at that. When all three are bringing what they bring, that’s kind of who we are.”
It was Sacre’s highest scoring game since his 22-point night in the season opener versus Eastern Washington. He endured a tough three-week stretch, during which he was dealing with a dislocated thumb, but he’s strung together three solid games in a row. Harris was aggressive throughout with strong drives to the basket. He’s scored in double figures in 16 of 19 games.
San Diego (7-12, 2-5) scored the last seven points of the first half and trimmed GU’s lead to 32-30 early in the second. Harris drove into the lane and was fouled hard, sending him backward, but on his way to the floor he flipped in a 6-foot shot. Harris missed the free throw, but Guy Landry Edi, who made his first start, kept the rebound alive. Sacre grabbed the ball and scored while being fouled. His free throw gave Gonzaga a nine-point lead.
“That was a big swing,” said Toreros coach Bill Grier, the former GU assistant. “Then we took a couple tough shots and didn’t get back in transition and they got some easy ones. Against a team at their level you have to do everything you can to prevent those kinds of runs … but their bigs are so hard to handle. They post hard, they’re physical, they’re strong.”
Dower rebounded from a subpar performance Thursday with 15 points, eight in a second-half spurt that helped extend Gonzaga’s lead to 24.
“They couldn’t handle our big guys,” said freshman guard Gary Bell Jr., who finished with 11 points. “We had to make sure they got touches so they could go to work.”
The Bulldogs missed eight of their first nine shots, but finished at 50 percent. They hit 17 of 27 shots in a 45-point second half.
San Diego’s Darian Norris came off the bench to score 20 points and forward Dennis Kramer added 14, 10 in the final 10 minutes. Freshman guard Johnny Dee, who averages nearly 15 per game, was 4 of 14 and scored 10 points. Christopher Anderson, a speedy 5-foot-7 freshman guard, added eight points, all in the first 20 minutes.
The Toreros have a front-loaded WCC schedule and they’re 0-5 against the top four of Saint Mary’s, Gonzaga, BYU and Loyola Marymount.
Edi finished with eight points and four rebounds in 26 minutes. He spent a good portion of those minutes defending Dee, who had 20-point games against Saint Mary’s, LMU and Santa Clara.
“That guy has really torched a lot of people,” Few said. “Guy did a nice job. He’s making solid plays on the offensive end, he gives us an offensive rebounder and he can knock down 3s.”
Gonzaga plays its next three games on the road, beginning with Portland on Thursday.