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Gonzaga Basketball

Drew Timme continues to expand his game, scores 35 in Gonzaga’s rout over Pepperdine

Gonzaga’s Drew Timme scores two of his 35 points during Saturday’s West Coast Conference opener against Pepperdine at McCarthey Athletic Center. Timme shot 15 of 19 from the field and added 10 rebounds.  (JESSE TINSLEY)

It can’t be easy to make gains in your game when you’re already an All-American and perhaps college basketball’s most prolific low-post scorer the past few years.

Drew Timme is finding a way.

The Gonzaga senior continues to pour in points, scoring 35 in a 111-88 rout over Pepperdine on Saturday afternoon in a West Coast Conference opener at the McCarthey Athletic Center.

Look past the point total on the stat sheet and Timme grabbed 10 rebounds – that’s his fifth double-double of the season and third in the past four games – and had five assists – his eighth game with at least four .

Timme has become even more comfortable operating against double teams and making opponents pay. His defense has been better, especially over the past three weeks, according to coach Mark Few.

Early on, Timme caught a pass in the lane, saw a defender coming and made a quick move in the opposite direction for a basket. He split two defenders on a couple of occasions to score on the low block.

“I’ve been facing doubles most of my career, probably since like seventh, eighth grade,” Timme said. “I feel comfortable for the most part. If you are going to put two people on me, that means someone like (Julian Strawther) is going to be wide open. We love getting this man catch-and-shoot 3s, they’re automatic and (for) ‘Ra’ (Rasir Bolton) and all of them.

“It’s a great part of our offense when teams want to do that just because it creates so much for other people.”

Strawther, feeling 100% healthy after a recent bout with illness, made four 3-pointers and scored 22 points. Malachi Smith (15 points) and Bolton (14) combined for five 3-pointers.

As the Zags have done nearly all season, the offense operated through Timme. He made 15 of 19 shots, hit just his second 3-pointer of the season and drew enough attention to create open space for teammates.

“He was fantastic,” Few said. “Come on, to go 15 out of 19 on anybody is spectacular. And one of the things that jumped out to me was five assists and two turnovers. Of all the great things he’s been doing, he has been turning it over a little too much, but he led the break and made good decisions. He had some nice passes out of the high post when they went zone and threw it out for some nice 3s.”

Timme bumped his scoring average to 22.7 points. His previous high was 19.0 as a sophomore. He’s hitting a career-best 65.9% on field goals and 68.9% inside the arc. He moved past Elias Harris into fourth place on Gonzaga’s all-time scoring list. Timme has 1,861 career points, six behind No. 3 Adam Morrison.

Timme averages 8.3 rebounds per game, well above his 7.0 as a sophomore. He averages 3.4 assists. His previous high was 2.8 last season.

“What it really takes is incredible mental toughness,” Few said. “Man, to just night in, night out deliver like this, it’s just off the charts. Obviously, you have to be a great player, because he’s been delivering time and time again.”

It’s part of the job description, according to Timme.

“I just have that extra gear now,” he said. “I know in order for us to win and be the best we can be, I have to do certain things night in and night out. And that (mental toughness) happens to be one of them.”

The 10th-ranked Zags (12-3) won their seventh straight game, their 27 consecutive West Coast Conference opener, their 74th straight at home and their 44th in a row over Pepperdine.

It was mostly driven by offense, but the Zags did parlay their best defensive stretch into a 20-4 run in the final 6-plus minutes for a 56-40 halftime cushion. Maxwell Lewis, Pepperdine’s leading scorer at 19.4 points, picked up his third foul early in GU’s spurt and went to the bench.

“We were really, really good on offense. Not so good on defense, but a lot of that has to do, as I said going into this game, with Pepperdine having some really talented guys,” Few said.

“Fortunately, we had that nice stretch at the end of the first half where we were able to string together multiple stops.”

Two related stats told the tale: Gonzaga outscored the Waves 30-5 in fastbreak points and 70-46 in paint points. The fastbreak margin was 20-3 in the opening half with Gonzaga scoring at least three baskets in transition after Pepperdine had scored at the other end of the floor.

Lewis led the Waves, who hit 52.2% from the field, with 20 points.