No. 1 Gonzaga overcomes slow start, beats Pepperdine 97-75

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
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MALIBU, Calif. — Top-ranked Gonzaga proved again Saturday night that it might be one of the deepest teams in the country.

The Bulldogs had six players score in double figures in a 97-75 rout of Pepperdine. It is the second time this season the Bulldogs have had six or more players score in double figures.

“Scoring might not be the primary role for some guys but with this team everyone is so good,” said Aaron Cook, who had a career-high 15 points off the bench. “You have to pick your poison and live with the results. It is hard to focus on two guys when the rest of the team can score.”

Drew Timme led the way with 19 points and Corey Kispert, the West Coast Conference’s leading scorer, added 16 for Gonzaga (17-0, 8-0 West Coast Conference), which has won 21 straight games dating to last season. Andrew Nembhard came off the bench and finished with 17 points and eight assists,

The Bulldogs, who lead the nation in scoring offense, were 28 of 34 on 2-point field goals with all but eight of those baskets being layups.

Pepperdine jumped out to a 15-7 lead before Gonzaga took control with a 21-2 run. The outburst included 16 straight points. Timme had six points during the seven-minute span while Anton Watson and Cook added four apiece.

The Bulldogs missed four of their first five shots before making 13 of the next 17. They had a 49-34 lead at halftime, with their largest advantage being 32 points late in the second half.

“In the first half, our defense got us going. Pepperdine got after us a little bit early and then I thought our defense started making some plays which allowed us to get in transition,” Gonzaga coach Mark Few said.

Colbey Ross led Pepperdine (7-8, 3-3) with 16 points and seven assists, and Sedrick Altman scored 14.

“Gonzaga took advantage when we were negligent with the ball and made us pay for it,” coach Lorenzo Romar said. “They exploited us and exposed every weakness that we had. It’s that simple. We can talk about improving, but they were better than us.”

HOT, THEN COLD

Pepperdine made seven of its first 10 from the field before going 7 of 24 the remainder of the first half. The Waves missed eight straight shots and committed four turnovers during Gonzaga’s run of 16 straight points.

BATTLING BACK

Gonzaga has trailed for only 21 minutes, 42 seconds in its eight conference games. The Bulldogs trailed for 8:32 during the first half on Saturday, marking only the second time they have been behind for eight or more minutes.

BIG PICTURE

Gonzaga: The Bulldogs have won their WCC games by an average of 25.3 points. All of them have been by double digits, with the 14-point win over Saint Mary’s being the closest.

Pepperdine: The Waves were looking to continue their momentum after Wednesday’s win over BYU, but couldn’t sustain it. They have lost 41 straight to Gonzaga, which is tied for the third-longest losing streak to an opponent in NCAA Division I basketball history.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

Gonzaga will extend its streak to 11 consecutive polls as the nation’s top-ranked team when the new AP Top 25 is released on Monday afternoon. It will also mark the first time since Kentucky in 2015 that a school has been at the top from preseason to the first week of February.

UP NEXT

Gonzaga was scheduled to host Loyola Marymount on Thursday, but the Lions game against San Diego was postponed on Saturday after a positive test. If Thursday’s game is called off, the Bulldogs’ next game won’t be until Feb. 11 at Santa Clara.

Pepperdine faces San Diego on Thursday in the second of three straight home games.