SPOKANE, Wash. (AP)Malachi Smith had a season-high 27 points, hitting seven 3-pointers, and No. 8 Gonzaga used a dominant first half to rout Portland 115-75 on Saturday night.
Gonzaga (16-3, 5-0 West Coast Conference) never trailed, racing to a 40-14 lead with seven minutes left in the first half en route to its NCAA-best 75th straight home victory and 15th straight win over Portland.
Gonzaga unleashed a flurry of 3s early on, hitting six through the first 10 minutes while Portland (9-11, 1-4) shot 0 for 9 from behind the arc during that time.
”We knew their game plan was to pack the paint and so coach was telling us just to be ready to shoot,” Smith said. ”And we were ready. Once you hit that first shot you know, it just gets easier. The rim just starts to look like an ocean.”
Following a 75-74 victory at BYU on Thursday night, coach Mark Few wanted to be sure the effort was the same tonight.
”By and large it was a really good effort, especially coming off of an emotional win and then dealing with a quick turnaround,” Few said. ”Malachi and Julian (Strawther) just shoot it really deep effortlessly, so I think that helps us spread things out.”
Portland cut the deficit to 17 with 5:16 left in the half, but the Bulldogs responded with a 19-3 run, and Gonzaga led 61-28 at half.
Drew Timme scored 18 points for Gonzaga. Strawther added 14 points and seven rebounds, Nolan Hickman had 13 points and Anton Watson and Ben Gregg each added 12. Ten players scored for the Bulldogs, who have now won 11 straight.
Moses Wood led the Pilots with 19 points, shooting 6 of 13. Kristian Sjolund added 17 points and 12 rebounds.
”We turned the ball over a bunch, and all those turnovers led to baskets on the other end. Lots of 3s, and a lot of easy shots,” Portland coach Shantay Legans said. ”They just kept their foot on the gas the whole time, and we didn’t put forth our best tonight.”
The Zags have won 11 straight following their loss to Baylor on Dec. 2 and remain atop the WCC standings.
Portland, following a 7-4 start, has dropped seven of nine.
Portland: Hosts San Diego on Thursday night.
Gonzaga: Host Loyola-Marymount on Thursday night.
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