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No. 9 Zags Power Past Rival Washington State 81-66

Two Inland Northwest rivals met for the 149th time tonight at Spokane Arena for what has become the state's best rivalry. As has been the case for most of the meetings this century, Gonzaga came out on top.

WSU's Ike Iroegbu and Gonzaga's Byron Wesley
WSU's Ike Iroegbu and Gonzaga's Byron Wesley
James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

It's pick your poison for teams trying to defend Gonzaga. Tonight Washington State was poisoned by the paint. Junior Forward Przemek Karnowski scored a game high 22 points on 10-15 shooting.

Gonzaga long and proud tradition of exceptional guard play. From John Stockton way back in the day thru the three point sharpshooters who put the Zags on the map up to today's duo of Kevin Pangos and Gary Bell Jr. This year's Zags aren't of the traditional variety.

Pangos (0 points) and Bell (2 points) failed to score in the first half yet the Zags had no problem with their regional rival Washington State.

These two teams have developed the best rivalry in the state of Washington, not because WSU is on the same level as Gonzaga but simply because the two schools share a TV market and play annually. As a result, these games have become some of the more entertaining games of each team's season.

For the first eight or so minutes, that was the case. If only because neither team was able to get into a rhythm and so the score was close.

Przemek Karnowski and Kyle Wiltjer scored the first 11 points for the Zags. Byron Wesley dropped in the next four, coming on two lay-ups. Then it was Domantas Sabonis with a free throw and lay-up. Ten minutes passed before Gonzaga got points from the one or two spot. Only 30 seconds remained in the first half when the Zags saw their first three fall, from reserve guard Silas Melson.

The Zags thrived in the paint to the tune of 56 points.

For Washington State it was Ike Iroegbu who kept the Cougars closer than they should've been. He scored 10 of his 14 points in the first half to keep the game from getting out of hand. In the second half, sophomore forward Josh Hawkinson scored 11 of his team high 18 points.

WSU made things interesting again in the middle of the second half with a 10-2 run that brought them back within nine points. Kyle Wiltjer knocked down a three to put an end to the run and Gonzaga never let their lead fall into single digits again.

This was Kevin Pangos' first career scoreless game. He and Bell combined for 2 points on 1-11 shooting.

Karnowski (22), Wiltjer (21) and Wesley (20) combined for 63 points and each 29-43 shooting.

Gonzaga improves to 8-1 on the season and 51-98 all time vs. Washington State.