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WATCH: New starters shine as No. 1 Gonzaga blasts Dixie State

Nov 9, 2021; Spokane, Washington, USA; Gonzaga Bulldogs guard Rasir Bolton (45) gets by Dixie State Trailblazers forward Dancell Leter (14) in the first half at McCarthey Athletic Center. Mandatory Credit: James Snook-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 9, 2021; Spokane, Washington, USA; Gonzaga Bulldogs guard Rasir Bolton (45) gets by Dixie State Trailblazers forward Dancell Leter (14) in the first half at McCarthey Athletic Center. Mandatory Credit: James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

Sophomore Julian Strawther, making his first collegiate start, scored a game-high 17 points and grabbed 10 rebounds as top-ranked Gonzaga opened its season with a 97-63 victory against Dixie State on Tuesday night in Spokane, Wash.

Bulldogs freshman 7-footer Chet Holmgren, the nation’s No. 1 recruit, came as advertised, finishing with 14 points, 13 rebounds, seven blocked shots and six assists in 28 minutes of action.

Rasir Bolton, transfer from Iowa State, added 15 points and Drew Timme scored 11 for the Bulldogs, who went 31-1 last season with the lone defeat coming against Baylor in the NCAA Tournament’s championship game.

Assistant Brian Michaelson acted as the head coach for the Zags as Mark Few completed a suspension for an offseason DUI citation.

Cameron Gooden led the Trailblazers with 15 points and five assists and Dancell Leter added 13 points.

Dixie State went 8-13 last season, its first in Division I. That included a 112-67 loss at Gonzaga in a game played without any fans because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

This time the Trailblazers, from St. George, Utah, were treated to a capacity crowd at the Kennel.

It seemed to affect them early, as the Zags scored the game’s first six points and led 17-3 midway through the first half.

Holmgren had 11 points and nine rebounds in the half as Gonzaga took a 40-25 lead into the intermission.

The Trailblazers pulled within 49-39 on a second-chance layup by Gooden with 14:06 remaining, before Gonzaga put together an 11-0 run in less than two minutes to regain control. Strawther scored seven points during the run, with a jumper, a three-point play and a thunderous dunk to make it 60-39.

Gonzaga shot 54.4 percent from the field (37 of 68) despite going just 6 of 21 from 3-point range. Thanks to Holmgren and Timme, the Zags had a 45-36 edge in rebounding and a 54-28 advantage in points in the paint. The Bulldogs also outscored the visitors 22-6 in fastbreak points.

–Field Level Media