Zags throttle Pilots - again
PORTLAND, Ore. – Normally Gonzaga has an inside-outside approach but it operated in reverse Thursday, knocking down eight 3-pointers in the first half and then pounding away in the lane in the second.
Normally, the Bulldogs lack significant points from the “3” position, but Mike Hart, Guy Landry Edi and Drew Barham combined for 20 points against Portland.
That balance and depth produced an entirely normal result for Gonzaga at the Chiles Center – a 71-49 WCC basketball victory over the Pilots, the Zags’ 17th straight win in this building and their 33rd in the last 34 games of the series.
Kelly Olynyk, stuck on the bench after committing two early fouls, scored 19 of his team-high 21 points in the second half. He only played 19 minutes. Kevin Pangos and Barham combined for six 3s in the opening 20 minutes. Elias Harris had a tough shooting night (5 of 16), but he contributed eight of his 10 points in the final 20 minutes as the eighth-ranked Bulldogs pulled away in front of a full house of 4,892.
Gonzaga (17-1, 4-0), which visits No. 13 Butler on Saturday, is tied with San Diego for first place in the WCC.
“They kind of crowded the paint in the first half and in the second half it kind of flipped because we had hit a bunch of 3s,” Olynyk said. “Kevin hit a bunch in first half, Drew hit a bunch. It really opened up in the second half.”
Pangos made three 3-pointers in less than 2 minutes as Gonzaga opened up a 16-2 lead. When the Pilots (8-11, 1-3) went to a zone defense, Barham got several open looks from the wing and corner. He made 3 of 4 3-pointers, the last with 35 seconds left to give Gonzaga a 36-26 halftime lead.
“That’s my role,” Barham said. “The coaches just said be ready because you never know when your time is going to come. I’ve just been ready in practice and finally a team went zone and kind of stayed in it.”
Hart, making his first start in his hometown, had four points, five rebounds and two steals.
“It wasn’t an ending, but it was a cool way to end my career here in Portland,” Hart said.
Edi, who has struggled for the better part of six weeks, scored five points as Gonzaga rebuilt its lead to double figures midway through the first half. He finished with seven points, his most since scoring eight against Pacific on Dec. 1.
Portland stayed within striking distance, mainly on the strength of Kevin Bailey’s 16 points – at least six of those coming on difficult, off-balance shots – and Oskars Reinfelds’ 12.
The Pilots were shooting just above 50 percent and trailed by 12 after Bailey’s layup with 7 minutes left.
They missed their last nine field-goal attempts and a pair of free throws and failed to score the rest of the way.
Gonzaga collected 16 offensive rebounds and dominated the boards, 35-22. Harris led with nine rebounds and Olynyk had eight.
The Zags had been outrebounded in their last three games.
The bench contributed 16 of GU’s 36 first-half points. David Stockton chipped in four assists, four rebounds and two steals.
“That’s kind of what we can do,” Gonzaga coach Mark Few said. “We have some nice balance and we can call in a lot of guys. I kept telling Drew if he just waits, we’ll see some zone eventually. He’s been doing that to us all year in practice, and obviously when Kevin makes shots it opens up a lot of other things.”
Portland junior forward Ryan Nicholas, a Gonzaga Prep product, finished with seven points and eight rebounds.