Gonzaga junior forward Drew Timme reached 1,000 career points, and just kept on scoring.
Timme became the 47th member of the Bulldogs’ 1,000-point club when he spun near the baseline for a reverse layup with 4 minutes, 55 seconds left in the first half. About 1 minute later, he hit a pair of free throws to ease past Domantas Sabonis into No. 46 on the program’s all-time scoring list.
Timme had plenty of help as the top-ranked Zags built a 20-point halftime lead and cruised to a 92-50 nonconference victory Friday over Bellarmine at the McCarthey Athletic Center.
Gonzaga had its best 40-minute defensive effort of the young season against the Knights, who were third nationally in field-goal percentage last year in their first Division I season. They made just 39.6% from the field.
The Knights’ “no-dribble offense” created some good looks early, but they misfired on 10 of 12 3-pointers in the first half while the Zags made 6 of 14, including 3 of 4 by sophomore wing Julian Strawther.
“It was really basically the first game we’ve had two halves of really good defense,” Gonzaga coach Mark Few said. “Certainly we’ve played some pretty spectacular first halves and let down in the second, but our guys stayed with it.
“They’re not an easy team to chase around and guard. It’s not something that you face literally at all in college basketball with movement, cutting, no ball screens and not much posting up.”
The visitors from Louisville, Kentucky, gave Saint Mary’s fits Wednesday in a 73-64 loss, but they found themselves down by 10 after Nembhard’s 3-pointer midway through the first half. Timme, Strawther and freshman forward Chet Holmgren combined for 40 first-half points and Andrew Nembhard added five points and six assists as the Zags led 48-28 at halftime.
Gonzaga had issues controlling senior guard Dylan Penn, who single-handedly accounted for the bulk of Bellarmine’s first-half points. Penn repeatedly beat defenders off the dribble for 14 points and four assists.
The second half was the exact opposite as Penn missed all four of his second-half shots and didn’t score.
“We put Chet on him and Chet did a great job,” Few said. “Moving forward, hopefully, if we face some of these athletic, downhill bigger wings, Chet can draw on this experience he had.”
“That’s what was asked of me,” Holmgren said, “to stop him at the rim so he couldn’t kick out for 3-point shots. That’s what coach (Few) asked me to do.”
Bellarmine’s offense lived up to its “no-dribble” nickname. The Knights had numerous possessions in which the ball never touched the floor, except for perhaps on a bounce pass as they relied on movement, cutting and a high volume of passes.
“That was really a surprise for me,” said GU freshman guard Nolan Hickman, who hit 3 of 4 3-pointers and finished with nine points and three assists. “We actually did a little study, me, Drew and Hunter (Sallis), and Julian actually introduced to me that they don’t dribble the ball. It was kind of new to me.”
The Zags’ offense clicked throughout. The Bulldogs made at least 50% from the field in each half and 48% overall from distance (11 of 23). They led by as many as 47 in the second half.
Early in the second half, Timme scored twice to move past No. 45 Jeff Condill. Timme finished with 25 points in 25 minutes, giving him 1,014 career points. He’s nine points behind Zach Norvell Jr. and Killian Tillie, who share 43rd place with 1,023 points.
“That is a far-off number,” Hickman said of Timme’s achievement. “He deserves that. He’s been working too hard, been getting too many buckets, so I’m proud of him.”
Strawther finished with four 3s and 19 points. Holmgren finished with 18 points, five rebounds, five assists, two steals and two blocks.
GU had advantages of 25-8 in points off turnovers and 20-5 in second-chance points.
Gonzaga (4-0) meets Central Michigan on Monday at T-Mobile Arena before a monster matchup with second-ranked UCLA on Tuesday. Bellarmine (0-4) faces the Bruins on Monday and Central Michigan on Tuesday.