No. 19 Gonzaga overwhelms Pepperdine 89-59
MALIBU, Calif. (AP) — Balanced scoring and ebullient defense continue to be a winning formula for Gonzaga.
Killian Tillie had 22 points and eight rebounds and was one of four Bulldogs in double-figures to lead No. 19 Gonzaga past Pepperdine 89-59 on Thursday night.
Johnathan Williams scored 13 points and Rui Hachimura had 12 points and six rebounds for the Bulldogs (13-3, 3-0 West Coast Conference), who have not lost to Pepperdine since 2002. Zach Norvell Jr. scored all 10 of his points in the second half.
“Tonight it was Tillie’s night,” Williams said. “We kept feeding him the ball and he kept eating. Different guys on different nights.”
Gonzaga outscored Pepperdine 48-14 in the paint, establishing an inside-out offense that had been lacking of late.
“And their bigs got in foul trouble early, so we wanted to keep attacking,” Williams said.
Eric Cooper Jr. had a season-high 19 points for the Waves (3-12, 0-3), making 8 of 15 shots from the field. Colbey Ross was the only other Pepperdine player in double digits with 12.
Pepperdine forward Kameron Edwards, who leads the team in points (15.9) and rebounds (6.8), missed his sixth straight game with a concussion.
Gonzaga led 41-23 at halftime, with Tillie scoring 12. He was 3 of 3 from the 3-point line, while the rest of the Bulldogs were 1 of 9 from deep.
Gonzaga held Pepperdine to 36.7 percent shooting from the field (11-30) in the first half with a defensive effort that head coach Mark Few called “exceptional.”
“We were good. We were really good. In that first half we were terrific,” Few said after limiting the Waves to 1 of 9 from 3-point range and not conceding a free throw in the first half.
Williams said Gonzaga wants to finish in the top 10 nationally on defense. They looked the part, allowing 39 points through the first 30 minutes before the bench yielded points late with the game already decided.
“Right now we’re just taking advantage of our size, our length and athleticism,” Williams said.
Gonzaga: Though it took a while for their offense to click, the Bulldogs’ defense clamped down to hold Pepperdine scoreless for 6:55 during a 15-0 first-half run. Gonzaga will need that kind of effort when it hosts Saint Mary’s on Jan. 18 in the first meeting of WCC powerhouses this season.
Pepperdine: And the beatdown at the hands of Gonzaga goes on. The Waves have lost 34 in a row to the Bulldogs, including 16 straight at home.
Since losing 72-70 at San Diego State on Dec. 21, Gonzaga has won three in a row by a combined 112 points. With losses by No. 11 Texas A&M and No. 15 Miami earlier in the week, the Bulldogs could inch back up a few spots as long as they avoid an upset at Loyola Marymount.
Gonzaga had a 36-13 scoring edge off the bench, with Corey Kispert and Jacob Larsen each adding nine points.
Few was especially pleased with Kispert, as the freshman added eight rebounds and two assists.
“He’s helping us. He made some kind of subtle nice plays tonight that I think showed some growth,” Few said.
Gonzaga: Visits Loyola Marymount on Saturday.
Pepperdine: Hosts San Francisco on Saturday.