Przemek Karnowski was pleasantly surprised.
Karnowski had a big size advantage against Bryant but the visitors from Rhode Island were content to play behind the 7-foot-1 center, not to mention his frontcourt teammates Johnathan Williams and Zach Collins.
The result was easy buckets from close range and another Gonzaga blowout, 109-70, though the final margin was somewhat misleading.
“They didn’t deny at all,” said Karnowski, who finished with 22 points on 9-of-13 shooting. “The guards did a great job delivering the ball, I took my time and tried to deliver the buckets.”
Williams overcame a slow start to finish with 20 points and grab eight rebounds. The 6-9 forward made both of his 3-point attempts. Collins put up 18 points in 17 minutes before fouling out. GU scored 50 points in the paint.
“I was looking for ‘Shem’ every time,” Williams said. “Keep feeding the monster.”
The 14th-ranked Zags (3-0) led for nearly 38 minutes in front of 6,000 Friday at the McCarthey Athletic Center but didn’t put away the scrappy East Coast Bulldogs (1-2) until the final 10 minutes.
Gonzaga had few issues on the offensive end. The Zags shot 55.7 percent and made 34 free throws in the foul-plagued contest. Bryant was whistled for 34 fouls and three players fouled out.
Bryant’s speedy guards gave the Zags some problems at the defensive end. The backcourt tandem of Nisre Zouzoua (22 points) and Adam Grant (17 points, all in the first half) scored with penetration or beyond the 3-point arc to keep Bryant within striking distance.
“I thought we were trying to play hard, but I thought Bryant did a nice job,” coach Mark Few said. “They kept coming and coming and they were able to string together some 3s.”
GU led by 17 with just over nine minutes remaining before pulling away.
Karnowski logged 20 minutes, including a nine-minute stretch to open the second half.
“I did (get tired) in the second half when our bigs got into foul trouble,” said Karnowski, who faced a long recovery after a Dec. 31 back surgery. “But Tommy (Lloyd, assistant coach) told me there was a media break coming so I wasn’t super worried.”
Gonzaga’s primary worry was on the defensive end. The Zags opened the second half with Melson guarding Grant and then they switched to a zone to limit Bryant’s penetration. Zouzoua made 3 of 8 shots in the second half and Grant missed all three of field-goal attempts.
Bryant made 33.3 percent from the field after hitting 53.6 in the opening half.
The Zags also had some success with a full-court press, forcing three straight turnovers in one first-half stretch.
“They had some good guards,” said point guard Nigel Williams-Goss, who finished with 13 points, five assists, four rebounds and two steals. “I just thought over 40 minutes our size and depth would wear them out and I think you saw that.”
Williams was just 2 of 12 from the field in Gonzaga’s first two games. He heated up late in the first half with a run of seven straight points, including his first 3-pointer of the season.
He finished 6 of 9 from the field and 6 of 8 from the free-throw line.
“I was just trying to be more aggressive and assertive,” Williams said, “and whatever happens happens.”
It looked like the rout was on early when Williams-Goss scored nine consecutive points to put Gonzaga on top 20-10.
After GU went ahead by 18, Grant banked in a 3-pointer over Karnowski and Hunter Ware added a trey to trim Gonzaga’s lead to 50-38 at half.
Follow along with the Zags
Subscribe to our Gonzaga Basketball newsletter to stay up with the latest news.