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Gonzaga crushes Coyotes, reaches 12-0 for first time

Gonzaga vs. fill-in-the-blank at the McCarthey Athletic Center has been a mismatch this season.

It was the same for South Dakota, which came in with its best start since joining Division I in 2008 and left with a 37-point loss.

No. 7 Gonzaga dominated from the opening tip and crushed the Coyotes 102-65 in front of 6,000 Wednesday.

Coach Mark Few was saying earlier in the week that he has no objection to 30-point wins. In fact, he rather enjoys them, but he knows it’s unrealistic to expect such outcomes.

Wednesday was satisfying for the coach on several fronts. GU heads into the holiday break with a 12-0 record for the first time in program history.

“I told them we should all have a great Christmas,” Few said. “Every task and challenge that has been presented to us, these guys have been right there and met it at a high level.”

The volume inside the MAC wasn’t at high decibels with students gone for the holiday break but the Zags made plenty of noise and seemed well stocked with energy.

“It can be pretty hard because there wasn’t a student section and it was before break,” freshman forward Killian Tillie said. “It’s kind of tricky to play this game but we stayed focused.”

The Zags have rolled to seven home wins by an average margin of 28.4 points. Akron was the toughest test so far, pushing GU deep into the second half before the Zags pulled away, 61-43.

“Being at home you’re always more comfortable,” freshman forward Zach Collins said. “That’s where you practice every day, where you get shots up every day. Just playing at home we feel really comfortable. We feel really, really confident.”

Collins dominated South Dakota’s undersized frontcourt, making all nine of his field-goal attempts and scoring a season-high 21 points in just 18 minutes. He also blocked four shots.

“You’re going to have those nights where everything goes your way,” he said. “My teammates did a really good job, especially our point guards looking in transition, point to post. That’s something we talked about in practice that we needed to get back to.”

Point guards Josh Perkins and Nigel Williams-Goss each had five assists, many coming in transition. GU handed out 22 assists on 39 field goals.

“Not only is (Collins) young but he really wants it,” Perkins said. “He’s in here every night. Young guy with a lot of potential.”

Williams-Goss had 14 points and his second straight game with nine rebounds. Johnathan Williams added 12 points and Jordan Mathews had 11.

Twelve Zags cracked the scoring column and the bench supplied 50 points.

The Zags made quick work of the Coyotes with runs of 10-0, 9-0, 10-0 and 10-0 in the first half alone. Mathews had 3-pointers in the first two spurts that left GU on top 29-18. Williams-Goss and Williams had 3s in a 10-0 burst that extended the margin to 39-20.

Gonzaga scored the last 10 points of the half for a 52-25 lead, capped by Williams-Goss taking an inbounds pass with 5 seconds left and dashing three-fourths of the floor for a floater.

“It was a great job by our guys taking care of business, kept our focus and shared the ball really well,” Few said. “For long stretches we played pretty darn good defense against a pretty capable offense.”

South Dakota (9-6) made just 36.2 percent from the field. Gonzaga has held five straight opponents below 39 percent shooting.

The Zags won the boards 47-37. GU’s last three opponents scored 57 points off 69 offensive rebounds. The Coyotes had just eight offensive boards and five second-chance points.

“We knew what was at stake in that game but I think it fired us up, fueled us,” Perkins said of reaching 12-0. “That was one of the goals we had on the board and making history is always a good reason to get a W.”

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