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Recap and highlights: No. 1 Gonzaga dominates Central Michigan in first game of Empire Classic

UPDATED: Mon., Nov. 22, 2021

No. 1 Gonzaga cruised to victory over Central Michigan in a final tune-up before its highly anticipated meeting with No. 2 UCLA tomorrow night. 

The Bulldogs (5-0) crossed triple digits for the first time this season, beat thing the Chippewas (1-3) 107-54.

Chet Holmgren scored a team-high 19 points with four rebounds, two assists and two blocks. Julian Strawther added 15 on 3 of 5 shooting from deep and Drew Timme and Rasir Bolton scored 11 points apiece.

It was a solid showing from the GU bench, which was led by Nolan Hickman’s 16 points and Hunter Sallis’ eight point, seven rebound performance. Anton Watson was also all over the court with seven points, seven rebounds, three assists, two steals and two blocks.

The Bulldogs will be back on the court again tomorrow night at 7 p.m. on ESPN against UCLA.

First half

19:10 - GU 4, CMU 0: Drew Timme sets the tone with a tough rebound and put-back for the second basket of the game. 

16:32 - GU 14, CMU 3: Gonzaga gets out of the gates rolling and force the Chippewas to take a timeout.

Rasir Bolton and Andrew Nembhard lead with five points apiece, as the Zags open shooting 60% from the floor.

CMU shooting 1 of 5 in the first 3:30, adding two turnovers and two fouls.

12:22 - GU 23, CMU 12: Chet Holmgren finds Anton Watson with a lob pass in the post, who converts an and-1. 

Chippewas sink a couple of 3-pointers to get their offense into the game.

8:11 - GU 34, CMU 17: A couple of blocks and emphatic dunks widen GU’s lead at a media timeout.

Drew Timme leads the Zags with nine points and four rebounds, while Holmgren is behind with eight.

2:22 - GU 52, CMU 24: An 18-7 run for the Zags out of the media break, looking to pull ahead by 30 before halftime.  

5.6 - GU 56, CMU 32: Chippewas chip away before the break. Chet Holmgren leads the Zags with 10 points going into halftime.

GU bench of Perry, Watson, Hickman and Sallis contribute 18 points.

Halftime

Gonzaga controlled the first half, despite shooting 3 of 13 from three. The Zags dominated the paint, outrebounding the Chippewas 23-12 and tallying three blocks, while Chet Holmgren led with 10 points and Drew Timme was close behind with nine.

Second half

16:30 - GU 69, CMU 39: The Zags open the second half with three 3-pointers to match their effort from the first 20 minutes.

Chet Holmgren leads with 15 points.

 

13:03 - GU 78, CMU 39: GU showing its dominance now, 22-7 run to start the second half. Holmgren, Timme, Bolton, Strawther all into double figures.

7:57 - GU 89, CMU 48: Bench getting minutes now, and the Zags close in on 100 points for the first time this season. 

3:39 - GU 100, CMU 50: Hunter Sallis breaks through the Chippewas defense for a layup and the Zags double-up CMU at the same time they hit the 100 point mark for the first time this season. 

Sallis has eight points off the bench. Nolan Hickman leads the bench with 16 points.

Starting 5

No change to Gonzaga’s starting five. Rolling out Nembhard, Bolton, Strawther, Timme and Holmgren against the Chippewas tonight.

Pregame

No. 1 Gonzaga kicks off a three-game road trip in Las Vegas against Central Michigan for the first game of the Empire Classic tonight at 8 p.m. on ESPNU.

The Bulldogs (4-0) are favored by 32 points over the Chippewas (1-2), ahead of tomorrow’s highly anticipated Final Four rematch against No. 2 UCLA.

The Zags breezed through wins over Alcorn State and Bellarmine last week, after a statement win over No. 5 Texas on Nov. 13. Meanwhile, CMU beat Eastern Illinois 62-61 on Nov. 15 to bounce back from season-opening losses to Missouri and DePaul.

Sin City success

Gonzaga has a 29-3 record in Las Vegas during the Mark Few era, enjoying 10 of 13 WCC Tournament championships since the conference moved its location for the 2008-09 season – where it has remained since.

The Zags only nonconference game in Las Vegas during that span was a 85-73 win over Georgia Tech in 2004, where Adam Morrison scored a team-high 24 points. Before that GU’s only in-season tournament games in Las Vegas came in 1977, where it lost to UNLV 91-68 and Seattle University 64-49.

Gonzaga's Adam Morrison, right, looks for an opening while guarded by Georgia Tech's Mario West during the second half Saturday night, Dec. 18, 2004, in Las Vegas. (Associated Press)
Gonzaga’s Adam Morrison, right, looks for an opening while guarded by Georgia Tech’s Mario West during the second half Saturday night, Dec. 18, 2004, in Las Vegas. (Associated Press)

Team stats

  CMU Gonzaga
Points 65.3 89.8
Points allowed 79.3 61
Field goal pct. 40.4 55.1
Rebounds 31.3 38.8
Assists 12 21.8
Blocks 2.3 5.8
Steals 7.3 7
Streak Won 1 Won 4

Individual leaders

POINTS PPG FG% FT%
Jermaine Jackson Jr. (CMU) 14.3 45.2 100
Drew Timme (GU) 20.8 65.3 72
REBOUNDS RPG DRPG ORPG
Brian Taylor (CMU) 7.3 6.3 1
Chet Holmgren (GU) 7.3 5 2.3
ASSISTS APG TOPG MPG
Jermaine Jackson Jr. (CMU) 4.3 1.7 34
Andrew Nembhard (GU) 5.5 2 29

Game preview

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