Opponents pretty much know what’s coming. Stopping it is another matter.
Gonzaga’s frontcourt tandem of Domantas Sabonis and Kyle Wiltjer dominated again, combining for 60 points in an 85-74 WCC victory over Portland in front of 6,000 Saturday at McCarthey Athletic Center.
Two Pilots forwards fouled out trying to defend the two Zags, who were coming off a combined 65 points against San Francisco. Wiltjer made six 3-pointers and scored 32 points, his second consecutive game with at least 30. Sabonis had 28 points, 17 rebounds, four assists, three blocks and three assists as the Zags won their seventh straight.
Both players are less than 100 percent healthy. Wiltjer missed virtually all of practice this week, trying to reduce the swelling in his foot. Sabonis is still feeling a sprained ankle from nine days ago against Santa Clara.
Sabonis leads the WCC with eight double-doubles. Wiltjer leads the conference in scoring at 21.5.
“Kyle did a great job of coming in and posting numbers like that,” coach Mark Few said. “I hope none of us take for granted the kind of year Domas is having because it’s spectacular some of the things he’s doing. Such consistency, it’s amazing.”
Sabonis made 7 of 11 shots and 14 of 17 free throws. Wiltjer found open space beyond the arc, hitting 6 of 9.
“Me and Kyle come in at night to work together because we know teams are going to double us,” Sabonis said. “I feel we have a great connection and it shows up.”
The ball often shows up in their hands and usually good things happen.
“You see why it goes to them, it’s kind of hard to argue,” said point guard Josh Perkins, who added 10 points and seven assists. “They do a great job of making the right plays if it’s not open for them and kicking it out.”
Gonzaga (13-3, 5-0 WCC) is alone in first place in the conference. Saint Mary’s (14-2, 5-1) lost to Pepperdine 67-64 in Malibu.
Wiltjer and Sabonis combined for 26 points as Gonzaga led 37-25 at half. Both teams had long dry spells in the first half. Portland went nearly 6:30 without scoring but the Zags only increased their lead to 15-8. Gonzaga followed with a 4:30 drought but the Pilots scored only five points.
Portland (8-9, 2-3) trailed 24-23 before the Zags reeled off 13 of the next 15 points to close the half. Wiltjer hit two 3-pointers and Kyle Dranginis added another trey in the spurt.
“I’m not sure either team was hitting on all cylinders,” Pilots coach Eric Reveno said. “I liked our defense. I thought their defense was very good. I give them credit. You could tell each team was working on that during the break.
“For us to go 0-for-8 (from 3 in the first half) and still have a chance felt all right but then it gets away from us at the end of the half. Wiltjer gets a couple 3s and you can’t let them have it.”
Gonzaga used a 9-0 run to open up a 59-41 lead with 12:36 remaining.
Portland, which came in averaging 10 3-pointers per game, made just 4 of 20. Gonzaga yielded 26 3-pointers in narrow wins over Santa Clara and San Francisco last week.
“We had a rough week playing defense in the Bay Area so we spent time on that,” said Few, whose team committed 16 turnovers. “Offensively it was probably a little bit choppy because of that but we did play good D against a team that has some great offensive numbers.”
Junior point guard Alec Wintering finished with 27 points and six assists but committed five of the Pilots’ 16 turnovers. Bryce Pressley added 15 points.
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