The only intrigue during the second half was whether Gonzaga would administer its most lopsided win over Washington in 45 meetings.
The eighth-ranked Zags pushed their lead to 34 twice before coasting to a 98-71 victory Wednesday in this one-sided rivalry. Gonzaga’s easiest win over UW was 37 in 1943.
Washington leads 29-16 overall, but the Zags have won 10 of the last 11. Nine of those were by double figures. Many of the 6,000 inside the McCarthey Athletic Center began to filter out into the cold evening air midway through the second half.
After seeing sizable leads melt away in wins over Arizona and Iowa State, the Zags (9-0) had no letdown against the Huskies (4-4).
“I thought we really competed and competed for very long stretches, even when we got a comfortable lead,” GU coach Mark Few said. “We took great care of the ball. Their pressure defensive sometimes can cause you fits.”
Gonzaga landed haymakers early. Johnathan Williams scored GU’s first seven points. Jordan Mathews struck for the next nine. When Mathews hit a rare four-point play (fouled on a made 3-pointer), Gonzaga’s lead reached double figures after 5 minutes.
The margin was 21 with 11:40 left in the first half when Josh Perkins fed Zach Collins for a dunk.
The Zags missed their first two shots before making their next 11.
“I’ve been a little timid the last five, six games,” Mathews said. “Matt Santangelo (ex-Zag now on GU’s radio broadcast) talked to me before the game and it was, ‘You have to play free, play your game, go out there and have fun and let chips fall where they may.’ ”
Gonzaga contained Markelle Fultz with Nigel Williams-Goss and Silas Melson seeing the majority of time defending the standout freshman guard. Fultz warmed up long after the issue was decided, finishing with 25 points on 10-of-26 shooting.
Williams-Goss, who played two seasons at Washington before transferring to Gonzaga, had a season-high 23 points. Przemek Karnowski had 17 points and Mathews added 14.
“It couldn’t have been any more fun,” Williams-Goss said. “I was actually one of the first subs. I went to the bench and saw the run from the sideline. I was going crazy over there.
“J-Mat (Mathews) hit that first 3 and then got the and-one, it was just so much fun. The building was electric.”
The Zags made 54 percent from the field.
At the other end, Washington missed and missed and missed, often with an offensive rebound or two mixed in. The Huskies grabbed 17 offensive boards in the first half, but it wasn’t until their 11th that they cashed in for second-chance points.
The Huskies never warmed up from the field, but a couple of putbacks cut Gonzaga’s lead to 19. The Zags closed the half on a 10-2 run, capped by Karnowski’s jumper in the closing seconds, to make it 47-22 at the break.
“We jumped out defensively and strung together multiple stops,” Few said. “And obviously when you make shots everything looks better.”
On the rare occasion Washington got a shot to fall, GU counterpunched immediately. Sam Timmins posted up Collins for a bucket. Collins responded with an up-and-under move at the offensive end.
Fultz banked in a jumper, then lost track of Williams-Goss on a backdoor cut for an easy layup. Matisse Thybulle drained a 17-footer, but the Huskies were beat down the floor by Karnowski for an and-one dunk.
“They can beat you from the outside, they can beat you from the inside,” said UW coach Lorenzo Romar, who is 4-9 against Gonzaga.
“They got some back-doors cuts here and there, but one of the main keys was finding them in transition. They got away from us in transition.”