Melson helps No. 14 Gonzaga beat Utah Valley 92-69
Utah Valley guard Conner Toolson, right, shoots against Gonzaga guard Jordan Mathews (4) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Spokane, Wash., Friday, Nov. 11, 2016. (AP Photo/Young Kwak)
SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) Gonzaga center Przemek Karnowski missed almost all last season with a back injury, but he showed few signs of rust as he scored 14 points in the 14th-ranked Bulldogs' 92-69 victory over Utah Valley on Friday night.
''I haven't been playing for so long,'' said Karnowski, who was 7 of 10 from the field and had seven rebounds. ''I'm excited to be out there.
''It's a great start for the season,'' Karnowski said. ''Everyone contributed.''
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Silas Melson scored 17 points, Jordan Mathews had 16 and Nigel Williams-Goss added 14 points and six assists for Gonzaga, which was 28-8 last season and advanced to the Round of 16 in the NCAA Tournament.
Melson added four assists and two steals.
''He was great for us,'' Karnowski said. ''You will see him rise and shine this season.''
Mathews is one of four transfers playing for the Zags, who lost Domantas Sabonis and Kyle Wiltjer to the NBA after last season.
''I can score the basketball,'' said Mathews, who made four 3-pointers. ''That's what Coach wants me to do.''
Conner Toolson scored 19 points and Kenneth Ogbe added 13 for Utah Valley (0-1), which was 12-18 last season.
''They are a hard team to play against,'' Utah Valley coach Mark Pope said. ''This is a hard venue.''
Gonzaga outshot the Wolverines 52 percent to 36 percent and dominated the rebounding 52-30.
''We're just a much better team than that,'' Pope said. ''My guys played hard.
''They drilled us in the post,'' said Pope, pointing to Gonzaga's 42-24 advantage on points in the paint.
Gonzaga made its first three shots to take an 8-0 lead. Mathews' 3-pointer, part of a 9-0 run, helped push the Bulldogs' lead to 28-13.
Utah Valley put together a 12-2 run, and consecutive 3-pointers by Toolson and Ogbe cut Gonzaga's lead to 30-25. It was the closest they would come to the lead.
Gonzaga responded with a 15-7 run to take a 45-32 lead at halftime.
Karnowski's stuff highlighted an 8-2 run early in the second half that gave Gonzaga a 56-37 lead.
The Wolverines cut Gonzaga's lead to 63-50 on Isaac Neilson's basket midway through the second half. But Gonzaga pushed the lead back to 20 points on Killian Tillie's basket with 7:56 left and was not threatened again.
Gonzaga has won 13 straight season openers dating to a 2003 loss to Saint Joseph's.
Utah Valley: The scrappy Wolverines kept it close for much of the first half, but didn't have the talent to run with the Bulldogs in the first meeting between the programs.
Gonzaga: The Bulldogs have made the NCAA Tournament every year since 1999 and showed they have the talent to make it 19 straight years.
Gonzaga shouldn't lose ground for dominating Utah Valley, but they probably won't rise much in the poll either.
Gonzaga assistant coach Donny Daniels is the father of Utah Valley assistant Eric Daniels. This is their first time coaching against each other.
Williams-Goss, a transfer from Washington who became eligible this season, is one of 20 players on the Bob Cousy Award watch list for top point guard in the nation.
Gonzaga has won .818 percent of its games this decade, trailing only Kansas and Kentucky.