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Gonzaga Basketball
Sports >  Gonzaga basketball

Recap and highlights: No. 1 Gonzaga never trails in season opening win over Dixie State

UPDATED: Tue., Nov. 9, 2021

Gonzaga never trailed in its season opener and the top-ranked Bulldogs flirted with triple digits in a 97-63 win over Dixie State in front of a sellout crowd at McCarthey Athletic Center.

Chet Holmgren scored 14 points and added 13 rebounds, seven blocked shots, five assists and five turnovers in his college debut. The seven blocks match a program record set in 2014 by Przemek Karwnowski.

Julian Strawther was Gonzaga’s leading scorer, totaling 17 points on 6 of 11 shooting while adding 10 points for his first career double-double. Three other Bulldogs finished in double figures, including Rasir Bolton (15), Drew Timme (11) and Nolan Hickman (11).

First half

19:47 - GU 2, Dixie State 0: Gonzaga wins the opening tip and Drew Timme quickly gets the Zags’ first points of the season on a layup.

15:57 - GU 6, Dixie State 0: Media timeout. Zags hold the lead in a sloppy start to the game. All five GU starters are 0 of 1 from three, as Holmgren leads with four points.

The Trailblazers are 0 of 4 to start the game with four turnovers.

Zags leading rebounds 7 to 4.

12:42 - GU 12, Dixie State 3: Zags in the bonus and Holmgren misses the front end of a 1 and 1.

Trailblazers struggling at 1 of 7 from the field with nine turnovers and eight personal fouls.

10:26 - GU 17, Dixie State 3: Bolton cans his second 3-pointer of the game for a share of the team-high. He and Holmgren have 6 points apiece.

Dixie State 1 of 13 from the field.

8:50 - GU 23, Dixie State 4: Hickman drains back-to-back layups to extend GU’s lead.

Holmgren well on his way to a double-double with 8 points and 7 rebounds.

4:47 - GU 29, Dixie State 16: Trailblazers getting some offense going, led by Allfrey’s four points.

GU still well in control, led by Holmgren’s 9 points, 8 rebounds and 4 blocks.

0:54 - GU 40, Dixie State 23: This one is quickly turning into the Chet Holmgren show. 

The top recruit in the country entering the season has 11 points, 9 rebounds, 5 blocks and 4 assists in the first half of his career.


Gonzaga controlled the first half with a dominating performance by Chet Holmgren in the first game of his career. Holmgren will be on triple-double watch after the break with 11 points, 9 rebounds, 5 blocks and 4 assists in the opening 20 minutes.

The Zags were aided by sloppy play from Dixie State, making 10 of 33 attempts with 10 fouls and 11 turnovers – mostly in the first 10 minutes of the game.

Rasir Bolton added eight points with two 3-pointers and player of the year candidate Drew Timme has been quiet with two points and one rebound.

Impact performance

Second half

16:55 - GU 47, Dixie State 32: Bolton drives the baseline for a layup, but the Trailblazers are trading buckets with the Zags to start the second half. Both teams with 7 points out of the locker room.

15:45 - GU 47, Dixie State 35: Gilbert’s 3-pointer cuts GU’s lead to 12. The Trailblazers now at 5 of 16 from deep compared to the Zags’ 3 of 14.

13:02 - GU 55, Dixie State 39: Trailblazers cut the lead to 10, but a quick 6-0 run on layups from Hickman, Strawther and Timme force a Dixie State timeout.

Strawther nearing a double-double with 8 points, 8 rebounds. 

11:50 - GU 60, Dixie State 39: Strawther converts and and-1, then slams a dunk in transition to extend the Zags’ run to 11.

Strawther now leading the team with 13 points – 9 in the second half.

8:13 - GU 71, Dixie State 49: Timme makes a layup for his eighth points and the Zags are now shooting 55% from the field.

GU has converted 13 of 19 attempts in the second half without Holmgren taking a shot. Bolton ties Strawther for the team high with 13 apiece.

4:51 - GU 79, Dixie State 55: Strawther makes his first three of the game to extend his team high to 17 points with 10 rebounds.

Holmgren blocks his seventh shot of the game to tie the single-game school record set by Przemek Karnowski in 2014. Holmgren has 12 points, 13 rebounds, 7 blocks and 6 assists in his debut.

1:04 - GU 95, Dixie State 63: Zags starters exited for the final four minutes. Strawther finishes with a team high 17 points.

Holmgren posts a 14 point, 13 rebound, 7 block, 6 steal performance in his first game for GU – tying the school’s single game block record.

Anton Watson has a solid night with 7 assists, 5 steals, 5 points and 3 rebounds. 

Starting 5

Gonzaga starts its season with a starting lineup of: Andrew Nembhard, Rasir Bolton, Julian Strawther, Chet Holmgren and Drew Timme.


Gonzaga opens the 2021 season as the top-ranked team in both the Associated Press and coaches polls, with only UCLA receiving any other first place votes. It’s been a long offseason for GU, after losing to Baylor in the National Championship on April 5 for the second time in the past five years.

Follow along as GU begins its quest to claim its first NCAA title tonight, hosting Dixie-State to open the season at 6 p.m. on KHQ, and ROOT Sports outside of the Spokane area.

Finding a rhythm

Gonzaga cruised in its first two exhibition wins – to nobody’s surprise – beating Eastern Oregon 115-62 and Lewis-Clark State 112-62. While the games were filled with highlight breakaways and blocked shots, the biggest question mark is on GU’s outside shooting.

The Bulldogs went 16 of 48 from 3-point range in those games and struggled for stretches, though Chet Holmgren made 3 of 4 attempts and Julian Strawther made 5 of 10.


Series History

The Bulldogs played the Trailblazers for the first time last year on Dec. 29, 2020, and winning 112-67. Corey Kispert led the team with 25 points, followed by Joel Ajayi’s 21 – both are now members of the NBA’s Washington Wizards. 

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