No. 10 Gonzaga has won 73 consecutive home games entering Saturday’s West Coast Conference opener against Pepperdine in Spokane, Wash. It is the longest streak since the expansion of the NCAA Tournament in 1985 — considered the modern era of the game.
Gonzaga also has defeated Pepperdine 43 consecutive times dating back to the 2001-02 season.
Despite the homecourt dominance, some of their most recent games were closer than the Bulldogs (11-3) would have liked.
In December alone, there were less-than-dominant victories against Kent State (73-66), Northern Illinois (88-67) and Montana (85-75) at the McCarthey Athletic Center.
But the Bulldogs put on a record-breaking show in their final tune-up before WCC play, defeating NAIA program Eastern Oregon 120-42 Wednesday — the most lopsided victory in school history.
“Well, thank God we finally took care of a team we’re supposed to like that,” said All-American Drew Timme, who scored 18 points and grabbed seven rebounds in just 17 minutes of playing time. “Tired of playing barnburner with NIU, Kent (State) and Montana. It was nice for all of us to play good.”
All 12 Gonzaga players scored and seven finished in double-figures. The bench alone outscored the Mountaineers 52-42.
Gonzaga set a single-game record for field goals made (51) and shot 70.8 percent, just missing the school mark for highest field-goal percentage (71.8).
The assault came in the Bulldogs’ first game in eight days after the holiday break.
“It was good for us to be able to get up and down and play against somebody as we try to get our legs back,” Gonzaga coach Mark Few said.
Efton Reid III, a 7-foot sophomore who transferred from LSU in an effort to fill the hole left by Chet Holmgren, came off the bench in the second half to score 16 points on 8-for-8 shooting, outscoring the Mountaineers (14 in the half) by himself. That matched his career-high set last season at LSU.
Reid had played sparingly during the nonconference slate.
“That’s kind of what we’ve been asking him to do and when he does what we ask him to do, he can be pretty effective,” Few said. “Obviously, those aren’t Division I athletes or Division I size, but at least he was in the right place and delivering and did some nice things defensively … so that’s good. We can keep growing that piece, hopefully.”
The Waves (7-7) kept busy during the holidays, participating in the Diamond Head Classic in Hawaii.
Pepperdine defeated George Washington 81-70 in the tournament but lost to host Hawaii 76-70 and to Iona 76-66.
While Gonzaga faced five ranked teams in nonconference play, Pepperdine played just one — then-No. 19 UCLA on Nov. 23. The Waves suffered a 100-53 loss at Pauley Pavilion.
“I talked to our guys, we have a young team, and I said, ‘Learn from it. Learn from what they do. That’s how it’s supposed to look when you’re playing the right way and you put everything together,'” Pepperdine coach Lorenzo Romar said. “We’ll learn from it.”
The Waves, who have already matched last season’s win total, have some talent. Sophomore Maxwell Lewis, considered one of the WCC’s top pro prospects, is averaging 19.4 points per game. Lewis is the conference’s reigning Player of the Week, while teammate Jevon Porter earned Freshman of the Week honors.
–Field Level Media