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22-0 and rolling: Gonzaga pummels Pepperdine to remain unbeaten

Gonzaga guard Johnathan Williams, left, blocks a shot by Pepperdine guard Elijah Lee during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Jan. 28, 2017, in Malibu, Calif. (Ringo H.W. Chiu / Associated Press)

MALIBU, Calif. – It was essentially a replay of the first Gonzaga-Pepperdine game and pretty much a replay of the WCC season thus far for the Zags. No. 3 Gonzaga dominated from tip to buzzer, crushing Pepperdine 96-49 in front of 3,104 Saturday at Firestone Fieldhouse.

Gonzaga put together one of its best efforts of the season in its last chance to impress voters before the polls come out on Monday. No. 1 Villanova and No. 2 Kansas lost earlier this week but the Jayhawks responded with a road win over Kentucky. Villanova entertains Virginia on Sunday.

“We can control what we can control, our effort during games,” said center Przemek Karnowski, who had 16 points on 8-of-11 shooting. “People are there to take care of the polls, the seeding. It’s not our job to do that.

“So far every obstacle we’ve had this season we’ve met it. We’re 22-0 and we have to keep it rolling.”

The Zags (22-0, 10-0 WCC) matched the 2015 team for the longest winning streak in program history. GU’s closest outcome in conference so far was a 95-80 win over San Francisco.

Gonzaga has made steady improvement since November.

“I think we’re being more patient,” Karnowski said. “We take really good care of the ball, our turnovers are low, guards and bigs. Our team defense improves week by week.”

Gonzaga picked up where it left off against the Waves in Spokane, when the Zags outscored Pepperdine 48-25 in the second half of a 92-62 victory in late December.

The Zags bolted in front 27-8. Silas Melson, who finished with 15 points, hit a putback to make it 43-21 at halftime. Pepperdine (6-16, 2-8) was within 18 early in the second half but the Zags hit the throttle again. Melson’s 3-pointer put Gonzaga up by 46 with 6 minutes left.

“I thought we were good for the full 40,” coach Mark Few said.

Nigel Williams-Goss added 12 points, eight rebounds and six assists.