Sabonis leads Gonzaga over Pepperdine 99-73
SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) Pepperdine wanted to bottle up Gonzaga stars Domantas Sabonis and Kyle Wiltjer on Monday night.
They got only part of the job done.
Sabonis scored 23 points as Gonzaga beat Pepperdine 99-73 in the West Coast Conference opener for both teams.
Wiltjer was held to nine points, but grabbed 11 rebounds.
Gonzaga made 16 of 26 3-pointers and 19 of 21 free throws to run away with the game.
''I thought our guys did fantastic tonight,'' Gonzaga coach Mark Few said. ''When you step up and shoot it like that, it makes everything look pretty good.''
On Sabonis, `''he's really growing before our very eyes,'' Few said.
Josh Perkins added 17 points and Eric McClellan 15 for Gonzaga (9-3, 1-0), which has won three straight games. They have a 30-game winning streak against Pepperdine dating to 2002.
''I think we've been waiting for our guys to step up and make shots like that,'' Few said of the guards.
Jeremy Major scored 21 points for Pepperdine (7-5, 0-1), which had won five straight games. Stacy Davis added 15.
''Our game plan was to not let Sabonis and Wiltjer go off for 60 points,'' Pepperdine coach Marty Wilson said.
But other Gonzaga players stepped up, he said.
''After a couple of guys hit 3s, it became contagious,'' Wilson said of the Zags. ''We allowed too many guys to get comfortable.''
Gonzaga center Przemek Karnowski has missed seven straight games with a back injury. The Zags are 5-2 without him, including losses at home to Arizona and UCLA that knocked them from the Top 25. It is the first time since the 2010-11 season that Gonzaga has lost two home games.
Gonzaga won the rebound battle 38-25, and shot 55 percent for the game.
Four of Gonzaga's first five baskets were 3-pointers, by four different players, as the Bulldogs built a 14-3 lead.
Sabonis hit six consecutive baskets for Gonzaga, including a layup, a 3-pointer and a dunk, to push their lead to 29-6. The Zags had made 12 of 15 shots at that point. Pepperdine made just four of its first 15 shots.
Silas Melson hit a 3-pointer as Gonzaga took a 37-9 lead.
Pepperdine finally came to life, as Major scored 10 points during a 12-0 run that brought the Waves within 37-21.
Gonzaga led 48-32 at halftime, behind eight 3-pointers and 52.9 percent shooting.
Perkins sank four 3-pointers in the first 12 minutes of the half as the Zags gradually pulled away, leading 85-60 with five minutes left.
This is the first time the WCC season has started before Christmas. Gonzaga was the unanimous pick of the league's coaches to win the regular season title.
Pepperdine: Stacy Davis averages 14.5 points, 8.5 rebounds and two assists per game ... Davis saw his streak of three straight double-doubles end ... Lamond Murray Jr. is averaging 14.4 ppg.
Gonzaga: Five of the Zags' next seven games are at home ... With Karnowski out, Wiltjer is averaging 36 minutes and Sabonis 32 minutes per game ... Gonzaga has posted a higher field goal percentage than 11 of its 12 opponents.
Sabonis, the current WCC player of the week, came in averaging 17.3 points and 10.3 rebounds per game for Gonzaga.
IT'S NOT TV
HBO has started filming a special chronicling the Gonzaga season, which will air at a later date.
Pepperdine plays at Portland on Wednesday.
Gonzaga hosts Loyola Marymount on Wednesday.