Loyola Marymount ends No. 6 Gonzaga’s 75-game home streak

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SPOKANE, Wash. – Cam Shelton banked in a go-ahead runner with 13 seconds left and Loyola Marymount snapped No. 6 Gonzaga’s 75-game home winning streak with a 68-67 victory.

The home streak for the Bulldogs (16-4, 5-1 West Coast Conference) was tied with Long Beach State (from 1968-74) for the eighth-longest in Division I history.

Shelton scored 27 points to lead the Lions (14-7, 4-3), who hadn’t won in Spokane since 1991 and had lost 25 straight overall to the Zags.

“For us, it’s another sign that our program is moving in the right direction, and that’s the biggest thing,” Loyola Marymount coach Stan Johnson said. “Not too many people are going to come up here and win, so I think it just stands and validates the guys we have in the locker room and all the things we’ve been trying to accomplish.”

Gonzaga had won 93 straight games against unranked opponents with 69 of those coming at home, and had won its previous 116 WCC games against teams other than Saint Mary’s and BYU.

“The home streak is over,” Zags coach Mark Few said. “It was going to end sometime and it ended in a tough, hard-fought battle. Our guys battled back and had a shot to keep it going. … I don’t think anybody is going to touch that (streak) for quite some time.”

Gonzaga’s streak of 36 straight wins in the month of January also ended. The Bulldogs had won 11 straight overall, the fourth-best streak in the country, since losing 64-63 to Baylor on Dec. 2.

Jalin Anderson added 15 points and Keli Leaupepe had 11 for the Lions. Loyola Marymount led by as many as nine in the second half and held off Gonzaga’s late run.

LMU led 66-59 with 2:55 left after Shelton’s 3-pointer, but the Zags scored the next eight points to take 67-66 lead on Drew Timme’s free throw with 41 seconds left. With the shot clock running down, Shelton converted a runner from just outside the lane to give the Lions the lead, and Timme’s last attempt at a winner was partly blocked by Leaupepe.

Shelton’s savvy play was crucial for the Lions in the closing minutes.

“Cam’s had a really tremendous year thus far and I thought he put pressure on them getting in the paint,” Johnson said. “I thought he made some good decisions finding his guys and I thought he had great poise, and that’s what you want from a veteran point guard.”

Timme led the Zags with 17 points. Nolan Hickman chipped in 12 points and six assists for the Zags, who were coming off a 115-75 win over Portland last Saturday.

Gonzaga struggled from the field, shooting 44.4% overall and going 4 of 14 (28.6%) from 3-point range and 15 of 23 (65.2%) from the free-throw line.

BIG PICTURE

Although Timme returned after helping Gonzaga to the national title game two years ago and a Sweet 16 appearance last year, there were signs this season might be more challenging for Few’s team after it began 5-3, with losses by 19 points to Texas and by 18 to Purdue.

Still, the Zags added a quality nonconference win over then-No. 4 Alabama and managed close road victories over WCC rivals San Francisco, Santa Clara and BYU en route to a 5-0 start in the league they have dominated for more than two decades, returning to their familiar position in the top 10 of the AP poll.

TIP-INS

The Lions improved to 2-2 on the road in WCC play. … Gonzaga had won 29 of its last 30 over Loyola Marymount.

UP NEXT

Loyola Marymount: Hosts Portland next Thursday night.

Gonzaga: At Pacific on Saturday night.

Drew Timme scores 35, No. 10 Gonzaga tops Pepperdine 111-88

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James Snook/USA TODAY Sports
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SPOKANE, Wash. — Drew Timme and No. 10 Gonzaga carried their recent offensive punch into the start of West Coast Conference play.

Timme scored 22 of his season-high 35 points as part of Gonzaga’s first-half scoring outburst, and the No. 10 Bulldogs raced past Pepperdine 111-88 on Saturday in the WCC opener for both.

Gonzaga (12-3, 1-0 WCC) won its 27th consecutive WCC opener and extended its home win streak to 74 games. The last time the Zags lost their first conference game of the season was 1996, when they fell to Santa Clara.

It was also Gonzaga’s 44th straight win over the Waves, the last loss coming during the 2001-02 season.

“We were really, really good on offense. Not so good on defense,” Gonzaga coach Mark Few said. “But a lot of that has to do, as I said going into this game, Pepperdine has got some really talented guys. And not only are they talented, but they can really shoot.”

Gonzaga just happened to shoot better, led by its standout post player.

Timme led an offensive onslaught by the Zags in the first half in which Gonzaga led 56-40 at the break, shot 63%, scored 40 points in the paint and added 20 points on the fastbreak. Timme made 10 of 12 shots and the team’s 56 points were the second-most scored in a first half this season by the Zags.

Timme made 15 of 19 shots for the game and his jump-hook in the lane with 4:37 left pushed Gonzaga to the century mark in points for the fifth time this season. Timme posted the seventh 30-point game of his college career and finished two points off his career-high of 37 points set last season against Texas.

“I think just got that extra gear now I would say. I know in order for us to win and be the best that we can be I have to do certain things night in and night out,” Timme said.

Julian Strawther added 22 points and Gonzaga finished with six players in double figures. Malachi Smith added 15, Rasir Bolton scored 14, Anton Watson 11 and Ben Gregg 10. Gonzaga shot 61% and has scored at least 85 points in its past five games.

Strawther felt he’d been struggling despite scoring in double figures in the previous three games.

“Just coming in with the mentality that it’s a new season and I can come out here and make an impact,” Strawther said. “It was good for my confidence to come out here and have a good performance.”

Maxwell Lewis led Pepperdine (7-8, 0-1) with 20 points in just 23 minutes, and was limited by major foul trouble in the first half. Lewis had seven points, three rebounds and two assists in the first six minutes for the Waves, before sitting nearly the rest of the half with foul trouble. Lewis picked up his second foul with about 14 minutes left in the half, returned with 5:39 left and was called for his third foul 15 seconds later.

He ended up being a spectator for most of Gonzaga’s 20-4 run to close the half. Pepperdine pulled even at 36-36 on Jevon Porter’s basket, but the Zags made nine of their final 13 shots to close the half.

Porter and Carson Basham added 17 apiece for the Waves.

BIG PICTURE

Pepperdine: The Waves lost for the first time this season when scoring at least 80 points. Pepperdine shot 52%, but was outscored 70-46 in the paint and 30-5 on the fastbreak.

Gonzaga: Timme continues his climb up the Gonzaga’s scoring record book. Timme moved into fourth place on Gonzaga’s all-time scoring list with 1,861 points. He moved past Elias Harris and within six points of Adam Morrison for third.

UP NEXT

Pepperdine: The Waves host Santa Clara on Thursday.

Gonzaga: The Zags begin a three-game road trip at San Francisco on Thursday.

No. 10 Gonzaga set program record vs. Eastern Oregon, 120-42

James Snook-USA TODAY Sports
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SPOKANE, Wash. – Drew Timme had 18 points and seven rebounds in 17 minutes, Efton Reid III added a season-high 16 points and No. 10 Gonzaga raced past NAIA member Eastern Oregon 120-42 on Wednesday to set a program record for the largest margin of victory.

It was Gonzaga’s first time beating an opponent by 70-plus points. Gonzaga’s previous best was a 61-point victory against Denver in the 2018-19 season, and the Zags also beat Eastern Oregon by 60 points in 2001.

All five Gonzaga starters finished in double figures – with each playing less than 21 minutes. Rasir Bolton added 14 points, Nolan Hickman and Anton Watson each had 13 points, and Julian Strawther and Malachi Smith scored 10 apiece.

Gonzaga shot 70.4% from the field (50 of 71) to narrowly miss setting another program record of 71.8% shooting against Saint Mary’s in 1996.

Gonzaga (11-3) also extended the nation’s longest home winning streak to 73 games.

Timme made his first seven shots and finished 8 of 10 from the field. Timme entered ranked seventh in program history with 1,808 points and moved past Matt Santangelo and Kevin Pangos for fifth. Reid, a transfer from LSU, made all eight of his shots.

Gonzaga went ahead by double figures for good with 13:18 remaining in the first half and Hickman’s 3-pointer with 11:03 left made it 31-13. The Zags extended their lead to 58-28 by halftime after making 24 of 32 (75%) field goals. The Gonzaga defense forced 13 turnovers in the first half, nine coming from steals, leading to a 17-0 advantage in fastbreak points.

Gonzaga scored the opening nine points of the second half to begin a 16-2 run for a 44-point lead and then sat all five starters midway through the second half. The Zags added a 20-0 run for a 62-point lead and reached 100 points with 5:44 left.

Spanning halftime, Eastern Oregon made just 2 of 18 shots – with eight straight misses on two occasions during the stretch. The Mountaineers also missed their final seven shots as Gonzaga closed on a 14-0 run.

Malachi Afework finished with 11 points for Eastern Oregon, which played the game as an exhibition.

Gonzaga closes the calendar year against Pepperdine on New Year’s Eve before going on a three-game road trip against West Coast Conference opponents.

Gonzaga ponders future with realignment beckoning

Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports
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SPOKANE, Wash. — Snowflakes were just starting to fall in earnest as students hurriedly erected tents with the intent of camping out for a basketball game more than 24 hours away.

The overnight party was eventually called off over concerns about the snow and frigid temperatures from the late autumn storm. But it still illustrated that there’s nothing else in West Coast college basketball to rival what Gonzaga has created over the last two decades.

“I am an undergrad degree-holder of the institution and so have been part of it for over 35 years and I’ve seen sort of what it was before we have experienced the modern era of basketball and what it has been during that time,” Gonzaga President Thayne McCulloh said. “And then some of the things that we now find ourselves challenged with and have opportunities around and it’s very clearly been an important dimension of who we are and how we’re seen.”

Gonzaga is no longer the plucky up-and-comer with the frequently mispronounced name, and it no longer really fits in the “mid-major” category, not with its resume. And with college sports realignment back in play, the Zags are being talked about as a potential target for bigger conferences that once never would have looked to Spokane.

The possibility of a future somewhere other than the West Coast Conference is on the table for Gonzaga, which has been a member since 1979.

“There’s always the need to look and the need to evaluate and it’s not simple math, it’s calculus,” Gonzaga athletic director Chris Standiford said. “I think you just have to stay open-minded and you have to be willing to look at the existing ecosystem and recognize that it’s not static, it’s very dynamic. And you have to anticipate what some of that dynamism means, and not be complacent.”

The talk surrounding Gonzaga is not new. There has been talk in the past of a move to the Big East or the Mountain West. More recently, the Zags have been linked to the Pac-12 and Big 12 following the latest realignment moves involving those conferences.

All those moves were based on football. Texas and Oklahoma to the SEC; USC and UCLA to the Big Ten; the Big 12 adding Cincinnati, UCF, Houston and BYU, which is a WCC member in basketball.

But the realignment juggle may be hitting its peak with regards to football. That’s left the question of what’s next and what still could be done with college basketball, the next most profitable college sport.

Gonzaga wouldn’t bring television market size. It would definitely offer brand relevance.

The Zags’ basketball resume is impressive: two national championship game appearances for the men, 23 straight NCAA Tournament berths, 21 WCC regular-season titles. The women’s basketball program is also regularly ranked in the AP Top 25 and has made three Sweet Sixteen trips and one Elite Eight appearance.

The Bulldogs are regularly strong in other sports like baseball and soccer, all helping to create national recognition.

“I think that’s probably the lesson that I get taught over and over is we underappreciate the power of our brand nationally,” Standiford said. “I think it means a lot to the sport of college basketball. I think it means a lot to the collegiate model because it inspires people to recognize that you still have a pathway to get there and it’s not economically driven, it’s opportunity-driven.”

One of those opportunities for Gonzaga could be with the Big 12, whose commissioner has not been shy about expressing his desire to have a presence on the West Coast. In Las Vegas earlier this month, Brett Yormark reiterated statements he’s made several times about the future of the Big 12 being larger than the four schools joining in 2023.

“We want to go coast-to-coast at some point in time,” Yormark said. “We would love to get into that fourth time zone and we will at some point.”

Yormark also said he views basketball as being undervalued and that he would be open to adding a member that doesn’t play football: “If there is a stand-alone basketball opportunity that creates value enterprise, value for the conference, absolutely.”

His statements appears to point toward Gonzaga, which seems to stand alone in its potential value because of its basketball program, at least out West. But the Pac-12 is also evaluating its future with the pending departure of the Los Angeles schools.

Any substantial consideration by the Pac-12 likely must wait until its next media deals are finalized. The Big 12 finished its TV deals earlier this year.

When asked generally if Gonzaga feels wanted, Standiford simply replied, “yes,” although there are no offers from potential suitors yet.

There is also the possibility that Gonzaga ends up staying put, deciding the WCC – all of its member schools are private, faith-based institutions – is the right fit.

“It’s not as easy or as simple as I think perhaps some people might want to think it is,” McCulloh said. “We are still a small- to medium-sized university that’s in a town called Spokane and our success as an institution has been very interrelated with our community and with our alumni.”

Timme leads No. 15 Gonzaga over No. 4 Alabama, 100-90

Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Drew Timme and Gonzaga’s veteran team got the better of Alabama’s youngsters in the end.

Timme matched his season-high with 29 points and No. 15 Gonzaga overcame freshman Brandon Miller’s 36-point outburst to beat No. 4 Alabama 100-90 on Saturday in the C.M. Newton Classic.

Timme had 10 rebounds, four assists and made 12 of 18 shots to help the Bulldogs (9-3) cool off one of the nation’s hottest teams. The Crimson Tide (9-2) had won four straight and beat two No. 1 teams to earn their highest ranking in 15 years, including a road win over Houston for the nation’s top rebounding team.

“Obviously they’re a physical, tough bunch,” Timme said. “We all saw the Houston game. If you’re able to rebound with them, you’re classified as a pretty tough team, I would say. We knew it was going to be a battle, and that’s what we love and that’s what we want.”

Alabama outrebounded Gonzaga 37-30 but still collected 12 fewer than usual, partly because both teams shot better than 50%.

It was a familiar situation – and outcome – for Gonzaga, which is 7-1 in regular-season games against teams ranked in the top five by either the AP or the coaches’ poll since 2018-19.

Miller scored 26 points in the second half, including the team’s first 10. The nation’s top scoring freshman had just delivered a 21-point second half in a 91-88 victory over Memphis but couldn’t carry his team to the win this time.

Timme got much more scoring support against a team starting three freshmen.

The Bulldogs had six double-figure scorers. Anton Watson scored 17, Nolan Hickman had 13 and Malachi Smith 12. Rasir Bolton and Julian Strawther each scored 11.

Gonzaga made 20 of 27 second-half shots (74%).

Freshman Jaden Bradley scored 18 points for Alabama in his second start. The third freshman starter, Noah Clowney, had nine points and 13 rebounds.

Miller, who doubled his season scoring average, made 6 of 11 3-pointers to keep it close. It was the most points by a Tide player since Kira Lewis Jr. scored 37 at Georgia on Feb. 8, 2020.

Without his second-half surge, “we wouldn’t have been in the game at all,” Tide coach Nate Oats said.

“Our defense was really struggling,” Oats said. “Him being able to get some buckets in the second half kept us in the game.”

Timme scored the last four points of the first half to stake Gonzaga to a 47-42 lead, holding Alabama scoreless over the last 2:56.

Smith scored on a 3-pointer and a drive to give the Bulldogs a 79-67 lead with nine minutes left.

It turned into a scoring duel between the senior Timme and one of the nation’s top freshmen. Both delivered big performances and high praise for each other.

Timme called Miller an NBA draft “lottery-level guy.”

“He’s a hell of a player. He really stepped up when his team needed him,” the Gonzaga star said.

For his part, Miller said Timme “has probably the best footwork in the country.”

“I’ve never seen anything like that,” he said. “He’s tough to guard. He gave us trouble early and then gave us trouble at the end of the game.”

THE TAKEAWAY

Gonzaga: The Bulldogs committed just nine turnovers. They shot 40 of 70 (57.1%) from the floor to return the favor after a 91-82 loss to Alabama last season in Seattle. The Zags reached 100 points for the fourth time this season.

Alabama: Miller’s teammates weren’t as hot from 3-point range, making just 2 of 14 attempts. Alabama committed 21 turnovers. Freshmen scored the Tide’s first 16 points, including seven from Bradley and a pair of Miller 3s.

TOUGH SCHEDULE

Alabama fell short of its fourth win over a Top 25 team, but Oats is hoping the tough nonconference schedule pays dividends for his squad.

“We’ll get better,” he said. “We play these good games to figure out what we’ve got to get better on and we’ve got plenty of stuff to work on.”

UP NEXT

Gonzaga hosts Montana on Tuesday night.

Alabama hosts Jackson State on Tuesday night.

No. 18 Gonzaga rolls to 7th straight over Washington 77-60

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James Snook/USA TODAY Sports
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SPOKANE, Wash. — For the most part, Gonzaga has passed on a nonconference schedule that includes a significant number of its Pacific Northwest rivals with one exception.

And in its recent history, the matchup with Washington has been completely one-sided toward the Bulldogs, including Friday night.

Drew Timme scored 22 points, Julian Strawther added 18 points and 12 rebounds, and No. 18 Gonzaga pulled away in the second half to beat Washington 77-60.

Facing off for the first time since 2019 with games canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Bulldogs (7-3) won their seventh straight over the Huskies. Dating to 1998, Gonzaga has won 14 of the last 15 games in the series.

“Every game that we play against each other, it’s just been super competitive,” Gonzaga’s Anton Watson said. “I’m happy we got the W.”

How competitive the Huskies have been facing off against the Bulldogs is open to debate. During Gonzaga’s seven-game winning streak, only twice has the game been decided by 10 points or less.

“I think if you look for the rest of the country they’ve been up here and everybody else has been down here. They’ve created that and that’s why their one of the best teams in the country and that’s what you’re trying to be,” Washington coach Mike Hopkins said.

Gonzaga extended the nation’s longest home winning streak to 70 games, the longest since Arizona won 71 straight at home from 1987-92. The Bulldogs will have a chance to match that mark next Monday against Northern Illinois.

Timme was dominant on the interior, taking advantage of foul trouble for the Washington front court. Timme made 8 of 13 shots and Gonzaga held a 44-32 advantage on points in the paint. Strawther found himself scoring in the lane several times, but also hit a pair of 3-pointers that sparked a second-half surge for the Bulldogs.

Gonzaga started the game missing nine of its first 10 shots, but ended up shooting 52% for the game.

“I thought once we settled down against their zone, we were able to kind of get some shots on our terms,” said Gonzaga coach Mark Few, who had little voice left afterward. “And then I thought all night we did a really, really good job of defending.”

Keion Brooks Jr. led Washington (7-3) with 14 points but was hampered by major foul trouble. Brooks picked up three first-half fouls and was whistled for his fourth with 14 minutes remaining.

PJ Fuller II added 13 points and Cole Bajema had 12 for Washington.

“They’re a great offensive team and they go through those scoring spurts,” Hopkins said. “We talked a lot about poise . we felt like when we had a lead we turned it over a little too much and were too careless with the ball. On the road, you can’t do that.”

Gonzaga led by 10 at halftime, but the lead was 42-35 after Braxton Meah’s dunk with 16:15 left. Gonzaga scored 15 of the next 19 points to build the lead to 18. Strawther started the run with both of his 3-pointers and Timme score the final five points. Washington never pulled closer than 12 the rest of the way.

“We know that when they make runs they make big runs and we’ve just got to stay poised, but they did a hell of a job to keep making runs,” Fuller said.

BIG PICTURE

Washington: The Huskies lost their 11th straight game against teams ranked in the AP Top 25, a clear issue that Hopkins has not been able to solve. Hopkins was 4-4 in his first eight games against ranked foes after arriving at Washington.

Gonzaga: Free throw shooting continues to be an issue for the Bulldogs. Gonzaga was 14 of 21 (67%) at the line. They entered the game at 71% at the line.

UP NEXT

Washington: Hosts Cal Poly on Tuesday night.

Gonzaga: Hosts Northern Illinois on Monday night.