No. 4 Gonzaga cruises past Santa Clara 98-39
SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) — With about 4½ minutes left in the first half, a section of Santa Clara fans started counting down the shot clock’s final seconds well ahead of time in an attempt to rattle Gonzaga’s Rui Hachimura.
Like most everything the Broncos tried against the No. 4 Bulldogs, it didn’t work at all.
Hachimura dribbled into the lane, did a 180-degree spin and flipped the ball over his shoulder with his back to the basket for an impressive layup that quieted the raucous Leavey Center crowd. Hachimura finished with 16 points, Josh Perkins had 18 points and eight assists, and every Gonzaga starter scored in double figures as Gonzaga rolled past Santa Clara 98-39 on Thursday night.
“We talked before the game and we made the statement that we’re the No. 1 team in the country,” Hachimura said. “From the jump to the end, we were really trying to dominate every position.”
Zach Norvell Jr. added 16 points and eight rebounds, Corey Kispert had 13 and Brandon Clarke scored 12 points to help Gonzaga (19-2, 6-0 West Coast Conference) to its 19th straight win over Santa Clara.
Bulldogs coach Mark Few’s team also extended its conference road winning streak to 27 games, the longest active mark in the nation.
“I was really happy that they brought their attention to detail, brought their effort, brought their physicality and showed our athleticism,” Few said. “It was all good.”
Few was particularly impressed with Hachimura’s layup while the crowd was roaring.
“I don’t know where he got that,” Few said.
Gonzaga held leads of 14-0, 20-2 and 48-10 while dominating Santa Clara on both ends of the floor in the first half, and was up 61 late in the second half well after Few pulled his starters.
Even then, the Bulldogs kept rolling.
Filip Petrusev scored 12 points off the bench, including a pair of free throws and a dunk that put Gonzaga up 96-37.
“We’ve been talking about putting two halves together and I think we did that today,” Perkins said. “Guys were locked in today and guys were paying attention to detail and doing the little things that don’t necessarily make the stat sheet.”
It was very similar to the first game between the teams three weeks ago when the Bulldogs won 91-48 in the conference opener.
“We’re a very different team than we were when the season started,” Santa Clara coach Herb Sendek said. “The guys who have been able to play have steadily gotten better. Most certainly tonight wasn’t a reflection of that.”
Perkins and Hachimura had 14 points apiece to get the Zags rolling early. Kispert added a pair of 3s and an emphatic two-handed dunk to help put the Bulldogs 53-17 at halftime.
The game drew a Leavey Center-record crowd of 5,094 that included Pro Football Hall of Famer Ronnie Lott, who sat courtside.
Gonzaga: The Bulldogs have won 10 straight since back-to-back losses to then-No. 7 Tennessee and then-No. 12 North Carolina, a good sign as they near the midway point of the conference schedule. Even more impressive was Gonzaga’s two turnovers, the fewest in school history and two fewer than its previous season-low of four. The Zags also held a huge advantage in rebounds and closed out strong with their starters on the bench. … Perkins moved into 20th place on the school’s career scoring list.
Santa Clara: The injury-plagued Broncos have played better than expected this season, but they didn’t have much go right in a second consecutive lopsided loss to Gonzaga. Santa Clara shot just 13 of 48 (27.1 percent) overall and was outscored 19-2 in second-chance points.
DOING IT ALL
Clarke played a key role in Gonzaga’s 11-3 run coming out of halftime. The big forward, who sat out last season after transferring from San Jose State, scored on a soaring two-handed dunk down the lane, then followed it up with an equally crisp block of Wertz to set up a layup for Perkins. Clarke finished with two blocks and has 66 this season, four shy of the Bulldogs’ single-season record of 70 set by Austin Daye in 2008-09. “No ego, no maintenance,” Few said. “He’s just been a joy to be around and coach. Even his redshirt year, he was a great learner, very willing.”
Four sections of Santa Clara students behind one of the baskets began chanting “Overrated!” in unison. The Broncos trailed 64-25 at the time.
Gonzaga: After a brief break, the Bulldogs play at BYU next Thursday.
Santa Clara: Hosts Loyola Marymount on Saturday in the second of three straight home games at the Leavey Center.
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