There were only two questions left to answer deep into the second half.
One, would senior forward Kyle Wiltjer scored 30 points for the fourth straight game? No, but he finished with 25 points on efficient 10-of-15 shooting before he departed with 6:27 remaining.
Two, would the Zags reach the required 10 3-pointers to send fans home with a coupon for a free taco? Yes, they hit 11 3s. A Kyle Dranginis trey with 7:13 left was met with great appreciation from what remained of the 6,000 inside the McCarthey Athletic Center.
No. 25 Gonzaga found their perimeter shooting stroke again and overwhelmed San Diego 88-52 Saturday, bouncing back after Thursday’s home loss to BYU.
The Zags (14-4, 6-1 WCC) buried 11 of 18 3-pointers. Wiltjer made both of his 3-point attempts and GU guards hit 9 of 15 from distance. Two days removed from a shaky performance against the Cougars, the guards combined for 38 points, 13 assists and just one turnover.
“We kind of got after those guards Friday to step up, get back to hunting their shot,” said coach Mark Few, whose team visits Saint Mary’s on Thursday with first place on the line. “You can’t just throw it into the post over and over, as good as (Wiltjer and Domantas Sabonis) are. We have to get some secondary scoring and they did a nice job with that.”
Dranginis was 3 of 4 beyond the arc for nine points. Bryan Alberts, who had gone four games without a field goal, made two treys. Silas Melson chipped in five points, five rebounds and three assists. Josh Perkins had eight points and five assists and Eric McClellan added six points and six rebounds.
“We have to show up every night,” Dranginis said. “Our bigs are showing up every night. We need to be more consistent.
“If it’s not broke don’t fix it, right? They were scoring crazy so we just kept throwing it into them and kind of lost a little focus on ourselves and the need to contribute. We realize that. We’re making progress.”
Sabonis had 14 points and 15 rebounds for his ninth double-double. Reserve center Ryan Edwards added a career-high 10 points and the bench contributed 27 points.
Gonzaga took command with a 14-0 run midway through the first half. San Diego was stuck on 19 points for 6 minutes until Duda Sanadze made an 8-footer in the lane. The Toreros (6-11, 1-5) went another 2:40 without scoring as GU’s lead grew to 37-21.
The Zags’ 46-27 halftime lead was trimmed to 11 after the Toreros opened the second half with eight straight points. Gonzaga responded with 12 unanswered points on 3s by Perkins and Dranginis, Edwards’ nifty left-handed hook and four points from Wiltjer.
“We gave up a little run at the beginning of the half,” Dranginis said. “We had a timeout and just decided it was going to end right there and not let it (another comeback) happen again.”
Gonzaga made 56.7 percent of its shots and dominated the boards 46-29. Six different players made 3s and nine connected on at least one field goal.
“It helps when you make shots,” Few said. “Everything looks better, runs better, leads stay longer if you make shots.”
“Anytime we’re hitting shots it opens up the floor for everyone,” Wiltjer added. “Hopefully we can stay in the gym, get our shots up and shoot confidently.”
San Diego made 8 of its first 14 shots but cooled off to 31.3 percent overall and just 19.2 percent on 3-pointers. Sanadze was the only Torero to reach double figures. He scored 21 points and had a team-best six rebounds.
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