SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) — Gonzaga senior Johnathan Williams is aware that this is his final college basketball season, and he wants to make the most of it.
So even No. 15 Gonzaga’s 103-68 blowout of Incarnate Word on Wednesday night was special.
“I’m going to cherish every game,” said Williams, who scored nine points, grabbed seven rebounds and dished three assists in just 17 minutes. “This is my last year.”
Rui Hachimura scored 18 points, Zach Norvell Jr. added 17, Josh Perkins scored 16 and Jacob Larsen 14 for Gonzaga (6-1), which lost to North Carolina in the NCAA Tournament title game last season.
“Jacob and Rui played extremely well,” Williams said of two players who came off the bench to help power the Zags to victory.
“We did what we had to do,” coach Mark Few said. “We played with good energy. We got after them on the defensive side from the jump.”
Few noted that getting extra minutes for Hachimura, a sophomore, and Larsen, a freshman, was always a positive. Both players are expected to contribute more as the season goes on.
Jalin Hart scored 17 points for Incarnate Word (3-3), which is in its second season of Division I basketball. Simi Socks added 12 points.
“They’re a great team with a great coaching staff,” said Ken Burmeister, coach of Incarnate Word. “It’s a tough situation coming in against a top program and a great coach.
“We weren’t able to play with them on the glass,” Burmeister said of his team’s 41-27 deficit in rebounding.
Perkins made all six of his shots, including four 3-pointers. The Zags finished with 12 3s.
Gonzaga shot 54 percent while holding the Cardinals to 44 percent. The Bulldogs scored 48 points in the paint, to 26 for the smaller Cardinals.
Gonzaga, looking forward to a Friday home game against No. 25 Creighton, made quick work of this one.
With the score tied 2-2, Gonzaga went on a 17-0 run as the Cardinals were held scoreless for more than 5 minutes.
A 10-4 run a few minutes later gave Gonzaga a 35-14 lead. The Zags shot 70 percent over the first 12 minutes of the game, with six 3-pointers.
The Zags cooled off, missing nine of 10 shots, but still led 49-26 at halftime.
Silas Melson had six points as Gonzaga opened the second half with an 18-6 run to build a 67-32 lead. The Bulldogs substituted freely but the Cardinals did not threaten after that.
This was the first meeting between the programs.
The Bulldogs have held 63 consecutive opponents to under 50 percent shooting, dating to 2015.
MAY I ASSIST YOU?
Gonzaga dished out 22 assists on 37 baskets, while Incarnate Word had 12 assists. The Cardinals were also hounded into 19 turnovers.
Gonzaga’s bench outscored the Incarnate Word bench 59-21.
Few said Creighton should be well rested when the teams meet on Friday. Gonzaga, on the other hand, has played four games in the past week. “They are an elite-level offense,” Few said of Creighton. “They’re an older team. They’ve got a lot of guys with three, four years of experience.”
Incarnate Word: The Cardinals, from San Antonio, beat three Division III teams to open the season, but have yet to beat a Division I program this year.
Gonzaga: The Bulldogs are coming off a good showing at the PK80 Invitational tournament, where they beat Ohio State and Texas, but fell to No. 6 Florida in double overtime.
Incarnate Word plays Sacramento State on Saturday.
Gonzaga hosts No. 25 Creighton on Friday.