Kyle Dranginis essentially introduced himself to Gonzaga basketball followers Thursday night.
The redshirt freshman guard poured in 30 points, had seven assists and grabbed six rebounds to help the 12th-ranked Bulldogs cruise past Lewis-Clark State College 104-57 in front of 6,000 at the McCarthey Athletic Center.
Dranginis’ previous season high was six points, but nobody inside GU’s locker room was surprised by his scoring outburst.
“I redshirted (last season) with him and he put the time in,” junior forward Kelly Olynyk said. “He can do that. I don’t think people know he can do that, but he can.”
Added center Przemek Karnowski: “He’s a great player. I’m not surprised, just happy about that.”
Gonzaga coach Mark Few elected to rest starters Elias Harris and Gary Bell Jr. against the NAIA Warriors after last week’s Old Spice Classic and a Saturday date with Pacific.
“Gary is beat up and walking around like he’s 50 years old,” Few said. “I knew if I sat Elias that it would force me to play Przemek more, and Kelly still needs more minutes. With three games in four days (in Orlando), with Gary running through every screen and playing a lot of minutes, he has some muscle pulls in his stomach and we are trying to rest him.”
Dranginis made 12 of 16 shots, including 4 of 7 3-pointers. He had 13 points in the first 7:30 minutes of the second half as Gonzaga stretched its lead from 18 to 34.
“I kind of got into a little groove,” Dranginis said. “Gary and Elias didn’t play and in my mind I was thinking we need a couple more scorers on the court so I tried to do that. I know I’m capable, it’s just hard because we have so many great scorers on this team.”
Gonzaga, which made 64 percent of its shots, had six players in double figures. Karnowski had 16 points and six rebounds. Sam Dower and David Stockton each had 13 points. Olynyk, who had 10 rebounds, and Drew Barham chipped in 11 points apiece.
Karnowski took exception to a hard foul in the closing seconds, which prompted a conversation with Few.
“I just said, ‘Look, this game doesn’t matter. Over here if you do something stupid you have to sit games and we need you for Saturday,’“ Few said. “We have a big week coming up.”
The Warriors stayed close early. Trey Sobotta, a Clarkston High product, hit consecutive 3s to pull LCSC within 22-15, but the Bulldogs gradually pulled away.
Gonzaga exploited its size advantage by scoring 60 points in the paint. The Bulldogs’ first eight baskets were from close range. GU finished with 28 assists, including seven by Stockton and five by Kevin Pangos, who played just 14 minutes. Barham connected on three 3s and scored 11 points in 16 minutes.
LCSC (9-1), which doesn’t have a player taller than 6-feet-6, was led by P.J. Bolte’s 10 points.
“I didn’t like how we defended in the first half,” Few said. “The first 10 minutes of the second half we defended the way we need to defend and rebounded the way we need to rebound. All in all, especially the second half, our guys really did a nice job getting things accomplished.”