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Sports >  Gonzaga basketball

Difference makers: Julian Strawther’s career night leads No. 14 Gonzaga over Portland

Jan. 28, 2023 Updated Sat., Jan. 28, 2023 at 8:10 p.m.

Julian Strawther

The Las Vegas native was hot from start to finish, hitting a pair of 3-pointers inside the game’s first 5 minutes before connecting three more times from deep to match his career high (five) before the break. Strawther’s shot-making continued after halftime and the junior wing matched his career high of 23 points – set against Xavier the last time GU played in Portland – early in the second half before finishing with 40. Strawther, who was 14 of 21 from the field and 8 of 12 on 3-pointers, finished one 3-pointer shy of matching the school record.

Anton Watson

Watson made the most of his chances on the offensive end and was again Gonzaga’s top defensive player. The senior forward squandered opportunities at the free-throw line (4 of 8) but still finished with 17 points on 6-of-10 shooting from the field with five rebounds and four assists. Watson, who also added three steals, forced Kristian Sjolund to airball a jumper on Portland’s first possession of the second half and forced turnovers on the next two. The Gonzaga Prep product scored in double figures for the fourth time in the past five games.

Turning point

Gonzaga led by two points when Portland’s Juan Sebastian Gorosito hit a 3-pointer with 8 minutes, 53 seconds remaining in the second half, but Strawther made a 3 on the Bulldogs’ next possession and Malachi Smith followed with a 6-0 personal run, hitting a shot from behind the arc before a three-point play on GU’s next trip down. Smith’s baskets opened an 11-point Gonzaga lead, and the Bulldogs led by at least seven points for the rest of the game.

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