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Gonzaga Basketball

Gonzaga sets program record for field goals in 123-57 blowout of NAIA Eastern Oregon

Consider the Gonzaga Bulldogs tuned up.

Before leaving town for a demanding stretch of basketball next week at the Maui Invitational, where they’ll play three games in three days, the Zags took advantage of one final opportunity to gather information, experiment with different lineups and iron out kinks Tuesday night against NAIA Eastern Oregon.

Gonzaga piled up all kinds of big numbers on the offensive end, setting a school record for made field goals and leading by as many as 68 points in a 123-57 rout of the Mountaineers at McCarthey Athletic Center.

The Bulldogs converted 52 times from the field, narrowly beating the school record of 51 field goals set against the same EOU program last year, and had their second-highest output in program history. Gonzaga’s 123 points only trailed the 136 the Bulldogs scored in an 11-point loss to Loyola Marymount in 1989. Gonzaga set a record for margin of victory in last year’s 120-42 victory against the same EOU team and won Tuesday’s game by 66 points – the second-highest margin in school history.

Those milestones weren’t nearly as valuable to the Zags as getting an extensive look at the eight or nine players who could help them next week when they take on a loaded field at the Maui Invitational, which features the teams that came in at No. 1 (Kansas), No. 2 (Purdue), No. 4 (Marquette), No. 7 (Tennessee) and No. 11 (Gonzaga) in Monday’s Associated Press poll.

“The best thing probably was just getting a lot of those guys that have been working really, really hard in practice, to get them out there and kind of reward them with playing time,” Gonzaga head coach Mark Few said. “Seeing that they stuck with the plan, really played hard and played through some things. Then obviously for some of our middle guys, six through 10, getting those guys some reps in game-like situations under the lights. So, really good for them.”

Only two of Gonzaga’s starters, point guard Ryan Nembhard and guard Dusty Stromer, played more than 20 minutes. Twelve of the 13 players on the Bulldogs’ roster registered at least eight minutes.

Gonzaga’s frontcourt depth should be a major key when the Bulldogs get to Honolulu for next week’s tournament. It played a significant role in establishing a commanding lead in the first half of Tuesday’s game against EOU.

Three Bulldogs finished in double figures, led by a 25-point, 11-rebound double-double from Graham Ike, who finished an efficient 11 of 12 from the field and made both of his 3-point attempts – just the fourth and fifth 3s the forward has made in 47 career games.

After leading Gonzaga with 19 points in Friday’s season opener against Yale, redshirt freshman forward Braden Huff turned in another superb scoring effort, finishing with 23 points on 11-of-14 shooting from the field while tacking on six rebounds. Huff’s production came in just 14 minutes.

Anton Watson gave GU a third 20-point scorer as the fifth-year senior and Gonzaga Prep product scored 20 points on 9-of-12 shooting from the field.

Altogether, the Bulldogs outscored the Mountaineers 84-18 in the paint and had a 62-29 rebounding advantage.

Watson, who ended a productive four-year partnership with Drew Timme last season in the Elite Eight, said it hasn’t taken long to build chemistry with Ike, who’s stepping into the All-American’s role in Gonzaga’s frontcourt this season.

“It’s kind of been there, we’ve been playing all summer together and he has a good feel for the ball and where to catch it,” Watson said. “Once he gets next to the hoop, you know it’s going in. I try my best to get him in the right position for him to get easy layups. Same with ‘B-Huff,’ because they’re big bodies down there and it’s easy buckets.”

The easy buckets didn’t just come from those three, though. Every player who got onto the floor scored and Gonzaga’s bench finished with more points (58) than EOU had as a team.

Nolan Hickman added 12 points for the Zags, Ben Gregg scored 10 and sophomore forward Jun Seok Yeo finished with nine points to go with seven rebounds and four assists.