Arrow-right Camera
Go to e-Edition Sign up for newsletters Customer service
Subscribe now
Sports >  Gonzaga basketball

Second-ranked Gonzaga knocks down 18 3-pointers, routs Portland 104-72

Jan. 29, 2022 Updated Sat., Jan. 29, 2022 at 10:05 p.m.

Portland gave Gonzaga plenty of space on the perimeter, so the Zags hit five 3-pointers in the first 4-plus minutes.

The Pilots never strayed from that strategy and the Zags didn’t stop making 3s.

Throw in another solid defensive effort by the No. 2 Zags and they were on their way to another blowout and their fourth time reaching the century mark in six West Coast Conference games.

The final tally was Gonzaga 104-72 Saturday. The lasting image will be of the Zags burying 18 3-pointers, a McCarthey Athletic Center record and four shy of their program and WCC record 22, set against San Francisco in 1995.

Eight Zags connected on at least one 3-pointer. Chet Holmgren and Andrew Nembhard each made four and Rasir Bolton and Julian Strawther each hit 3.

“I think I’ve seen that (defensive tactic) a couple times, but it’s not too common,” said Nembhard, a senior point guard who finished with 22 points, four assists and no turnovers in 31 minutes.

“They were trying to pull some tricks out of their sleeve,” said junior forward Anton Watson, who hit his only 3-point attempt and finished with 16 points and three assists. “I don’t know why because we’ve got shooters on this team all around. It’s kind of weird playing against that.”

Portland first-year coach Shantay Legans, who was at Eastern Washington the previous four seasons, said his game plan was to entice Gonzaga into taking 40 3-pointers.

The Zags put up 41 3s and scored 54 points from behind the 3-point arc.

“That’s all my fault,” Legans said. “It’s why they’re one of the best teams in the country. You’ve got to pick your poison with them. They do a very good job of pushing the ball and get you going and really make you defend the whole possession.

“They’ve got inside guys, they’ve got outside guys and today you’ve got to tip your hat to one of the better teams and one of the best coaches in the country.”

Gonzaga (17-2, 6-0 WCC) maintained a one-game lead over Saint Mary’s (17-4, 5-1). The Zags visit San Diego on Thursday and BYU on Saturday. The Toreros, picked ninth in the coaches’ preseason poll, improved to 6-3 in conference play with a 69-65 road win Saturday over Loyola Marymount.

The Zags followed up their early flurry of 3s with a stretch of capitalizing on Portland turnovers. Those miscues were usually forced by Watson and Hunter Sallis and they led to several breakaway dunks and layups.

Then came a Portland intentional foul and technical foul – things got even more chippy during the second half – and Gonzaga’s lead grew to 18 points late in the opening half. Watson’s 3-pointer gave GU a 48-28 lead at halftime.

“Hunter’s play, he’s starting to do that every game. He’s really asserting himself and showing his quickness and athleticism,” Zags coach Mark Few said. “When those two (Sallis and Watson) are in there and we’ve got Chet protecting rim, I think our defense ratchets up a couple notches.”

Gonzaga stretched the lead to 28 early in the second half on Nolan Hickman’s steal and layup. The Pilots (11-10, 2-4) kept battling, led by former Eagles Tyler Robertson and Mike Meadows.

The pair combined for 36 points. Robertson drove for a tough finish in the lane and then picked off the inbounds pass. His 3-pointer rattled in and out, but the Pilots eventually pulled within 17 points.

Gonzaga responded with three 3s, two by Strawther and one by Holmgren, to move on top 91-62 with 6 minutes left. The 32-point final margin exceeded Gonzaga’s 28.4-point average margin in its first five WCC wins.

The Pilots made just 35.7% from the field and 3 of 23 on 3-pointers.

“They’re a hard team to guard,” Few said. “They put five guys out on the perimeter and they’re undersized. We had Drew (Timme) running around chasing a guard and for most part we did a nice job on the defensive end.”

Timme (16 points and 10 rebounds) and Holmgren (12 and 11) both had double-doubles. Strawther nearly joined them with 14 points and eight boards.

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

Local journalism is essential.

Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.

Active Person

Follow along with the Zags

Subscribe to our Gonzaga Basketball newsletter to stay up with the latest news.