No. 2 Gonzaga hits century mark for third consecutive game, thumps Santa Clara 115-83
Jan. 15, 2022 Updated Sat., Jan. 15, 2022 at 8:20 p.m.
Gonzaga Bulldogs guard Andrew Nembhard (3) shoots the ball against the Santa Clara Broncos during the first half of a college basketball game on Saturday, Jan 15, 2022, at Leavy Center in Santa Clara, Calif. (Tyler Tjomsland/The Spokesman-Review)Buy a print of this photo
SANTA CLARA, Calif. – Santa Clara’s Herb Sendek collected the 500th win of his career earlier this week, but facing a hyperefficient Gonzaga offense that’s operating at historic levels, No. 501 was always going to be difficult to come by on Saturday afternoon.
The second-ranked Bulldogs may not carry that label for much longer after disposing of the Broncos 115-83 at the Leavey Center in another game that saw a Gonzaga offense led by preseason All-American Drew Timme produce mind-boggling offensive numbers from opening tip to final buzzer.
At the end of a week that saw three of the country’s top five teams absorb at least one loss, Gonzaga (14-2, 2-0) left no doubt in its first true road test while winning a third consecutive West Coast Conference game by at least 26 points. The Bulldogs continue to build a strong case to take over the country’s top ranking come Monday morning after No. 1 Baylor suffered two losses in Big-12 play this week.
“I thought they were terrific,” Gonzaga coach Mark Few said of his team. “That was a tough turnaround, especially with a plane trip, and we came out and again played with great pace on the offensive end, but initially we did a really good job of executing the defensive plan on short prep and that’s a really good offensive team. They score at all five spots and really spread you out with the three and have two bigs that can post you when needed.”
Now onto the historic numbers.
After scoring 117 points against Pepperdine in its WCC opener and 110 against BYU on Thursday, Gonzaga registered 115 against Santa Clara, becoming the first team in program history to hit the triple-digit mark in three consecutive games. No NCAA team has accomplished that feat against three Division I teams since Savannah State in 2018.
Gonzaga also became the first team over the past 25 seasons to reach 60 points in the first half of three consecutive games, scoring 60 against Santa Clara after posting 61 against BYU and 63 against Pepperdine.
“It’s crazy because there’s been so many great players and teams to come through here, but it’s just coach, he pushes us to get as many possessions as we can, just keep playing up and down,” Timme said. “I’m not surprised, honestly, coach has brought in a lot of talent and stuff. We’re clicking now and all the pieces of the puzzle are starting to come together.”
Retaining talent has been just as integral to Gonzaga’s success, no player embodying that theory better than Timme, who scored 32 points – the second-highest total of his career – in another game that highlighted the junior’s remarkable efficiency.
Timme’s 32 points came on 14-of-18 shooting from the field. Before missing three shots in the second half, the Texan had made 20 consecutive shots inside the arc over a three-game stretch dating back to the second half against Pepperdine. Timme, who had 30 points less than 48 hours earlier against BYU, has scored 62 points on 32 shot attempts in his past two games while bumping his season scoring average to 18.5 points per game.
“It’s pretty good, it’s pretty cool. I’m not going to lie,” Timme said of his 20 consecutive makes inside the arc. “I do see myself as an efficient player, but even that’s hard to do, especially against all the great competition we’ve played, especially this past stretch we’ve had. Just a testament I guess to all the work I’ve put in, something I really take pride in Unfortunate that it ended, but I’m glad that it happened.”
Even on a 30-point night for Timme, the Zags still managed to squeeze five other double-digit scorers onto the stat sheet.
Coming off a 22-point outing against BYU, senior point guard Andrew Nembhard scored 19 to go with six assists, Nolan Hickman made four 3-pointers to finish with 14 points, Rasir Bolton had 12 points and Chet Holmgren and Anton Watson both had 11 points. Holmgren and Watson had double-doubles, grabbing 12 and 11 rebounds, respectively.
Gonzaga dished out 26 assists against Santa Clara, bringing the three-game total to 80. The Bulldogs shot better than 50% from the field for the third straight game, making 44 of 75 (58.7%) shots and 12 of 26 (46.2%) from 3-point range.
“It feels great to just be a part of a team like this and to see where we can go,” Bolton said. “To see our potential and hopefully we can fill it and go as far as we can.”
Jalen Williams, the WCC’s leading scorer at 19 points per game entering Saturday’s contest, scored a team-high 17 points for Santa Clara but was held to 6-of-16 shooting from the field.
Keshawn Justice added 13 points for the Broncos.
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