The Gonzaga Bulldogs, in general, needed a bounce-back game after their loss Thursday night to Saint Mary’s.
And Josh Perkins, in particular, needed one personally after a 1-for-9 shooting performance in that one.
Saturday night in Santa Clara both accomplished their goals as the Zags cruised to an eased-off 75-60 win behind Perkins’ 17-point night.
What they saw …
The game was televised by TheW.TV, the broadcasting arm of the West Coast Conference. So the announcing team of Dave Feldman on the play-by-play and Casey Jacobsen with the analysis might not be too familiar to Spokane-area residents.
But keep this one fact in mind: When Jacobsen left Glendora High in Southern California almost 20 years ago, he was the leading scorer in the area’s history. He still is.
And when he graduated from Stanford four years later, he was third on the Cardinal’s scoring list.
So when he talks about offense, he’s worth listening to. Or when he’s talking about hamburgers.
Jacobsen decided to cite local hamburger stands for his pregame keys, labeling Santa Clara’s as Five Guys, as in needing all five guys to play well.
They didn’t. In fact it was K.J. Feagin (21 points) and little else. Only Henry Caruso, with 11, joined Feagin in double figures.
“It’s been sort of a one-man show on offense,” Jacobsen said with about 7 minutes left. He probably could have dropped the “sort-of.”
On the other end, Gonzaga’s burger pick was In-N-Out. Significantly, that’s how the Zags played. Besides, everyone knows In-N-Out is better than Five Guys.
It was this night by a large margin.
Rui Hachimura, Killian Tillie and Johnathan Williams combined for 37 points and 19 rebounds, though they did play some key minutes in the first half together. More important, their presence inside forced Santa Clara (7-13 overall and 4-4 in WCC play) to sag and opened lanes for Perkins and Zach Norvell (16 points, all but two in the second half) to attack.
And attack they did.
“Perkins has looked good early,” Jacobsen said just before halftime as Gonzaga built a 10-point lead behind their point guard’s scoring. “This is a bounce-back game for him. As a scorer, you know when you have a stinker like (the game against Saint Mary’s) you can’t wait to step back between the lines.”
Norvell seemed like a revelation for Jacobsen, who oohed and aahed at a couple of his shots and noted, correctly, “Norvell is an underrated passer.
“Fans in Spokane are going to enjoy watching (Norvell) the next few years,” Jacobsen added.
What we saw …
In a game Gonzaga (17-4, 7-1) led by as many as 21, and was rarely threatened in the second half, it was easy for Jacobsen to be positive about the GU offense.
But he also criticized what it was facing.
“The Santa Clara defense hasn’t been very good, if we are going to be honest,” he said midway through the second half.
A case in point was Tillie, who scored in a variety of ways inside.
“If you’re guarding Killian Tillie, you can’t back off him,” Jacobsen opined after another Tillie attack in the key. “You have to make him feel uncomfortable because if he’s allowed to dribble into rhythm, forget about it.”
Jacobsen didn’t forget about Hachimura, who he agreed was an NBA draft pick waiting to happen, or the struggles of Silas Melson, who was in foul trouble all game and finished with just five points.
“It’s just one of those nights,” Jacobsen said after Melson picked up his fourth foul, one of the rare times he resorted to a cliché.
For example, when Gonzaga went on a 10-zip second-half run to put the game out of reach, Jacobsen made up a word.
“That’s the spurtability I was talking about,” he said. “That’s what separates them …” he paused, thought a second, then continued … “well, they have a lot of things that separates them (from the rest of the conference) but that’s one of the things.”
And it’s one of the things that allow the Zags, who are 26-2 following a loss since 2011-12, to bounce back.
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