Gonzaga entered Thursday night’s road game at the University of San Diego’s Jenny Craig Pavilion with 33 consecutive West Coast Conference road wins. The Zags had also won 10 consecutive games overall against the Toreros.
Add one, an easy one at that, to those totals.
The top-ranked Bulldogs rolled to a 37-point halftime edge and breezed to a 94-50 victory.
But it didn’t seem like a road game, at least in Spokane living rooms. The game, broadcast on KHQ in the Inland Northwest, featured the local crew of Greg Heister, Dan Dickau and Richard Fox, enjoying a respite from the snow and cold of home.
What they saw …
• The wipeout nature of the game – appropriate, in a sense, for surfer paradise San Diego – allowed the Spokane-based crew to examine some aspects of the Zags’ season that may belie their No. 1-ranking a bit.
Dickau added his thoughts early, and Filip Petrusev was the deserving target. As San Diego (7-11, 0-3 WCC) used too much time in a possession, leading to 6-foot-10 Belarus native Yauhen Massalski having to fake and attack the rim (he didn’t beat the shot clock).
Petrusev bit on the fake. And Dickau pointed it out, as well as noticing some ball-screen issues and slow rotations.
“Petrusev has got to be better with his details,” he said. “Closing out to a nonshooter with the shot clock winding down. Jumps for a shot fake.”
You could almost hear Dickau shaking his head.
• Anton Watson has been limited this season with a variety of injuries. But he looked as healthy in this one as he has since early in the season.
The broadcast crew noticed.
The trio discussed his four-point, five-rebound game that also included 17 minutes. And wondered what it meant for the future.
“That’s the one difference for Watson compared to the other three bigs,” Fox said, “given the fact he can play multiple positions in a way those other three can’t. He just offers some versatility because of his athleticism.”
Fox mentioned how much Watson, the freshman from Gonzaga Prep, will offer one “he gets right.”
• Joel Ayayi is already “right.” The guard led Gonzaga (17-1, 3-0) with 20 points and added six rebounds.
Petrusev added 17 points and five rebounds while missing just three shots.
What we saw …
• It turned out not to matter, but an interesting incident early in the game was actually a flashback to the NCAA opening-round victory last season against Fairleigh Dickinson.
The Zags won that one in a walk as well – 87-49 – but were outshot from the free-throw line by a wide margin. One of the officials from that game, Midwest-based Kelly Self, worked this one as well.
And he was in the middle of the early, well, let’s call it a “conversation.”
Less than a minute in, Petrusev caught a pass attacking the rim and scored while being banged by Marion Humphrey, who came from the corner and slid into the GU big in the restricted area.
Except Self called Petrusev for a charge. The Gonzaga center immediately pointed to the floor, rightly, and said something. And another official, Marques Pettigrew, also pointed out the same thing to Self. But the veteran, who is known for a technical foul call on Kansas’ Bill Self, no relation, a few years ago, shook his head and ignored the help.
He also waited a couple of minutes and then confronted Petrusev at the free-throw line for at least 20 seconds as the center prepared for a pair from the charity stripe. The Gonzaga coaching staff seemed to react to the discussion and replaced Petrusev.
The key matchup …
• Like the rest of the game, the anticipated showdown between San Diego wing Braun Hartfield and Corey Kispert was a wipeout. At least when the game was in doubt.
Hartfield, who came in averaging 13.1 points a game, but almost 16 in his last 10, wasn’t a factor in the end-the-suspense first half. He only took five shots and missed them all.
Kispert, who rarely lost contact with the 6-6 transfer from Youngstown State, not only was locking in on defense, he was also scoring. He finished the first half (and game) with 10 points (and four assists).
Hartfield finished with nine points on 4-of-13 shooting.