The Gonzaga Bulldogs picked up their third road win of the season with a 90-62 victory over the San Diego Toreros at the Jenny Craig Pavilion. With the win, Gonzaga moves to a 7-0 record in WCC play, although the night was marred somewhat by pre-game news that Oumar Ballo would miss the contest with a thumb injury.
Five different Zags scored in double figures, with Drew Timme leading the way with 21 points and 7 rebounds. Julian Strawther entered the game with a single made three pointer on the season, and doubled that mark with two more in a comfortable 11-point outing for the freshman. Corey Kispert had 19 points and 8 rebounds, and Jalen Suggs added 17 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists, and 3 steals along with handful of highlights. Anton Watson rounded it out with 10 points, while Andrew Nembhard was excellent pulling the strings with 10 assists.
The first half played out much differently than most expected, with San Diego dictating the terms of engagement for the first 12 minutes of the game and successfully keeping Gonzaga at bay. Considering the Toreros don’t typically play that slow, it was impressive to see them control the game so effectively. Of course, the Zags made their lives easier by being a little more careless with the ball than they should, particularly in light of the fact that USD isn’t exactly a defensive juggernaut.
A slow and sloppy start resulted in Gonzaga not taking its first lead until the 8-minute mark in the first half. Other than Timme, whom San Diego opted not to double in the post, Gonzaga had very little going on offense until the closing minutes of the opening half. Ayayi, who is so good at impacting the game in multiple ways, was nearly anonymous and finished the half with zero points, two turnovers, one assist, and two rebounds.
There were some nice moments here and there, the biggest highlight being a Suggs steal and drop off to Kispert who hammered home a dunk in transition, but for the most part it was more plodding than scintillating basketball.
While the first half went as well as San Diego could have probably hoped for, Gonzaga was still ahead 40-29 at the break and was done with playing a close game.
The Zags exerted much greater control on proceedings from the outset of the second. The defense was a little tighter and the offensive moment was much more purposeful, particularly off the ball.
Kispert came alive offensively, perhaps spurred on by a dubious charge call—the kind that has plagued college basketball for years. Suggs then grabbed the baton, putting together a rare 4-point play and highlight reel steal and dunk on consecutive possessions.
The outcome was sealed at that point, although the Toreros must not have gotten the memo as they continued to play hard and prevented Mark Few from emptying his bench before the final media timeout. Despite some defensive lapses late in the game, Gonzaga was never threatened and leave San Diego with its perfect record intact.