PORTLAND – Sometimes the sequel is better than the original.
At least it was for Gonzaga. Portland, not so much.
Two days after having their hands full with the Pilots in Spokane, the Zags encountered little resistance in an 83-64 rout Monday at the Chiles Center. The odd back-to-back matchups were due to the rescheduling of a Jan. 7th postponement due to inclement weather in Portland.
Third-ranked Gonzaga (20-0, 8-0 WCC) equaled the 20-game winning streak of the 2004 and 2006 teams. The 2015 Zags won a program-record 22 in a row.
The Zags needed 30-plus minutes to hit their stride in Saturday’s 73-52 win over Portland in Spokane. The final margin was closer in the rematch, but only because the Pilots battled to the buzzer after trailing by 33 with 13 minutes remaining.
Gonzaga’s balanced attack was on full display. All eight players in their primary rotation had between four and eight points. Zach Collins had team-highs with 13 points and eight rebounds. Silas Melson and Jordan Mathews each had 12 points and Johnathan Williams added 10.
Nigel Williams-Goss, who took a hard fall on his hip late in Saturday’s win, started and played 26 minutes. He finished with four points and five assists. However, freshman forward Killian Tillie left the game midway through the second half with a right leg injury.
Gonzaga went on an 18-0 spurt spanning the last 3:42 of the first half and the opening 3 minutes of the second to take a commanding 48-23 lead.
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The first 13 minutes were a virtual replay of Saturday’s meeting, when the Zags didn’t hit their stride until midway through the second half.
Portland kept it interesting as Rashad Jackson buried his third 3-pointer, this one from 25 feet, to trim Gonzaga’s lead to 22-19.
The Zags countered with transition buckets by Mathews and Williams-Goss. Melson followed with a 3-pointer on Przemek Karnowski’s fourth assist of the half.
The Pilots responded with consecutive field goals by D’Marques Tyson and Jazz Johnson but the Pilots misfired on their last six shots of the half as well as a pair of free throws.
The Zags took full advantage. Williams broke loose for a dunk, Collins and Tillie each hit two free throws and Melson dropped a floater in the lane to bump GU’s lead to 38-23 at half.
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Karnowski hit a pair of field goals, Josh Perkins added a 3-pointer and Mathews connected on a transition 3 to extend Gonzaga’s lead to 48-23.
The Zags led by 33 with 12:57 remaining.
It might have occurred before the game started. After coach Mark Few’s final instructions in the huddle, Karnowski gathered the team on the court for his pre-tip address.
The 7-foot-1 senior tailors his speeches for each opponent, usually pointing out one of the key points on the scouting report. Considering Portland hammered GU on the boards, including 21 offensive rebounds, on Saturday, Karnowski’s speech practically wrote itself.
“We got our ass kicked on the offensive rebounds in the last game,” Karnowski said. “Our effort on the glass was way better. We got to most of the balls on our end.”
Karnowski said the team spent a day and half watching tape of the rebounding.
“I’m pretty sure we were aware of it,” he said.
The Zags won the boards 41-36. Portland eventually grabbed 12 offensive rebounds, but its first second-chance points came roughly five minutes into the second half.
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