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Sports >  Gonzaga basketball

Gonzaga looks out for Lions after addressing pressing issues

For at least one game, Gonzaga solved three sticking points this season.

The Zags were dialed in from 3-point land, trimmed their turnovers and avoided a second-half slumber in a 99-73 rout over Pepperdine on Monday. They don’t have to wait long to attempt an encore with Loyola Marymount visiting the McCarthey Athletic Center at 6 p.m. Wednesday.

“Hopefully, guys will keep seeing a big rim like that and we’ll continue to shoot it like that,” GU head coach Mark Few said.

The Zags (9-3, 1-0 WCC) made 16 3-pointers against Pepperdine, their highest total since 18 versus Santa Clara in March 1999. The Waves came into the game seventh nationally in 3-point percentage defense (25.5).

“That’s a testament to our bigs,” guard Eric McClellan said. “Those guys are going to get double-teamed every night, ‘Wiltj’ (Kyle Wiltjer) got box-and-oned. He didn’t take crazy shots, he just kicked it out. We got everybody involved, guys stepped up and shot confidently. Sixteen 3s, that’s a beautiful thing.”

The Zags have committed only 22 turnovers in their last three games.

“We’re starting to take care of the ball a lot better,” Wiltjer said, “and that just makes us a more deadly team.”

Gonzaga rolled up 51 second-half points, second only to scoring 60 in the closing half versus Mount St. Mary’s.

“We kind of grew up,” Wiltjer said. “We’ve been having these really good first halves and we followed up with a good second half. We’re going to make mistakes. The first play of the second half we made a mistake, but the key was having each others’ back and being positive.”

LMU (7-5, 0-1) surrendered 14 3-pointers in an 87-60 loss at Portland on Monday. The Lions had won six of eight games, and the two losses in that stretch were to Oregon State (79-70) and Boise State (67-66).

“We just have to bring the same energy, create our own energy and fight like crazy,” Few said. “Loyola is probably the surprise team in the league, maybe Saint Mary’s also. They gave Boise State fits and Boise has an excellent team this year.”

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