SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) Coming off a big win in a showdown with rival Saint Mary’s, No. 4 Gonzaga could have been in for a bit of a letdown.
Seeing another frenzied crowd hoping for an upset was more than enough to keep the Bulldogs on their game.
Przemek Karnowski scored 19 points on just seven shots from the field and Gonzaga remained the only undefeated team in Division I with an 88-57 victory over Santa Clara on Thursday night.
“I’ve been here for five years and basically wherever you go it’s the biggest game of the season, in the conference at least,” Karnowski said. “We have to be prepared for that. Their crowd was really into it. We came out focused and I liked our intensity.”
Karnowski made six shots against the undersized Broncos and added seven more points from the free throw line to help the Bulldogs (18-0, 6-0 West Coast Conference) extend the best start in school history with another lopsided win.
Zach Collins had 16 points and Nigel Williams-Goss added 11 points and 10 rebounds in Gonzaga’s 11th straight double-digit win.
“Every game they come out ready to go,” coach Mark Few said. “They come out with energy, effort, and attention to detail has been really good. They’re a mature group.”
Jared Brownridge scored 23 points to lead the Broncos (10-10, 4-3) but got little help from his teammates as Santa Clara dropped its 13th straight to Gonzaga and 37th in the past 39 meetings.
“We just were stagnant on the offensive end – it had everything to do with us,” Brownridge said. “They’re a great team, there’s no argument about it. Tonight’s game had to do with us.”
Gonzaga scored 13 straight points midway through the first half to open a 20-point lead and never looked back as Santa Clara struggled to get open shots and couldn’t keep the Bulldogs out of the paint.
Brownridge keyed a 15-5 run early in the second half that cut a 21-point lead to 11 but the Bulldogs quickly built the lead back to 20 and coasted to the win.
Gonzaga: After easily passing their first true test in conference play with a 23-point win over then-No. 21 Saint Mary’s on Saturday, the Bulldogs avoided a letdown by building the big early lead. There don’t figure to be many tough tests the rest of the regular season outside of a return trip to Saint Mary’s next month so the main task for Gonzaga will be to maintain their intensity before for the tournaments in March.
Santa Clara: The Broncos came into the game having won four of five but it was a different level of competition this game. They missed 14 of their first 18 shots – with six air balls – and never had a chance at the upset. They struggled to get any consistent offense outside of Brownridge and were overmatched inside in coach Herb Sendek’s first game against the class of the WCC.
Brownridge moved into seventh place on the WCC all-time scoring list with 2,079 points, jumping ahead of Loyola Marymount’s Forrest McKenzie. He made six 3-pointers but Few was happy with the overall defensive effort.
“Brownridge is an unbelievable player and he’s unbelievably gifted coming off those pin-downs and finding his shots,” Few said. “I thought we did a nice job, mixed up the coverages and made it hard, not just on him, but everyone else.”
LIVING AT THE LINE
Santa Clara committed six fouls in the first 4:13 of the second half and Gonzaga lived at the free throw line from there. The Bulldogs shot 18 for 23 from the line in the second half as they repeatedly fed Karnowski and Collins inside.
“They were in the double bonus early in the second half so we tried to take advantage of that and tried to go inside and pin fouls on them,” Karnowski said.
A lopsided win over an overmatched opponent should do little to change the ranking for the Bulldogs in the AP poll .
Gonzaga: Hosts Portland on Saturday.
Santa Clara: Hosts Loyola Marymount on Saturday.