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Gonzaga Basketball

No. 1 Gonzaga pummels Santa Clara to stay unbeaten

Gonzaga’s depth, balance and defense have been strengths all season.

They took on added importance Saturday with leading scorer Nigel Williams-Goss sidelined by an ankle injury.

Enter Jordan Mathews, Josh Perkins, Zach Collins, Przemek Karnowski, Killian Tillie and company. No. 1 Gonzaga put five players in double figures and pounded Santa Clara 90-55 in front of 6,000 at the McCarthey Athletic Center.

The Zags (24-0, 12-0 WCC) maintained a one-game lead over Saint Mary’s.

It was an impressive performance by a team coming off a tough road game Thursday at BYU.

“If they’re as tired as I feel right now…” coach Mark Few said. “You get home at 2:30 Friday morning, have to turn around and play a game, especially after all we put in to (Thursday). It was a really physical game, you saw Przemek (Karnowski) was beat up, ‘J3’ (Johnathan Williams) was a little beat up with his back and obviously Nigel.

“It was good for our depth to stand up and show.”

Mathews and Perkins combined for 31 points and 12 assists. Collins (14 points), Karnowski (12) and Tillie (10) powered the inside game.

Gonzaga’s defense forced four shot-clock violations and limited Santa Clara to 39.6-percent shooting. The Broncos’ Jared Brownridge moved into fifth place on the WCC’s all-time scoring list but he was limited to 13 points, well below his season average of 18.5.

“He had 23 on us (last month), six of them were 3s that we gave up that he didn’t earn from us,” guard Silas Melson said. “That was the main focus, just take away his easy looks.”

Super Bowl pick

Asked for a Super Bowl pick, coach Mark Few sounded like he’s leaning toward New England.

“I’m a big (Patriots quarterback Tom) Brady guy, (coach Bill) Bellichick guy,” Few said, “even though I’ve been really impressed with how the Falcons are playing of late.”