Coming off a record-tying third loss at the McCarthey Athletic Center of the season, Gonzaga had a date with the cellar dwelling Toreros. Exactly the kind of team you would want to see when looking to bounce back.
Gonzaga shot 56.7% while holding the Toreros to a meager 31.3% from the field. Well, San Diego never shoots well so maybe that isn't all due to the Zags' defensive effort. Kyle Wiltjer scored a game high 25 points on 10-15 shooting. His fellow big man Domantas Sabonis added 14 points and 15 rebounds for a ninth double-double on the season. Ryan Edwards recorded a career high 10 points, the seven foot sophomore finally looks comfortable with the extended minutes he's getting in the absence of Przemek Karnowski.
San Diego senior Duda Sanadze followed up Thursday night's career high 29 point performance against Portland with a team high 21 points.
To start the game San Diego was hot, by Torero standards, opening three of four from the field then extending that to five of eight. Vasa Pusica scored the first two for the Toreros but then went completely silent. Much like the rest of the team. After that five of eight start the Toreros hit just seven of their next 28 shots to close out the half. During that span they missed ten straight.
Gonzaga took full advantage of the Toreros' impotence with a 14-0 run that turned a tie game into a blowout.
It was 19-all when that run began with 11:05 to play in the first. San Diego needed more than 20 minutes to put up another 19 points.
During the Gonzaga run Josh Perkins connected with Eric McClellan, who was making a backdoor cut on the baseline, for an alley-oop that set the Kennel on fire. For a guard unit that has been up and down all year long this game represented an up moment, despite none of the guards hitting double figures in scoring.
San Diego was shut down even more so in the second half, shooting just 29% from the field.
Gonzaga was able to bring in little used bench players pretty early, starting with just under five minutes to play. The first to enter the game, Dustin Triano, immediately drained a three. In an indictment of the talent level first year head coach Lamont Smith has inherited at San Diego, that Triano three pushed Gonzaga's shooting percentage at the time to 58.5%. The Toreros, who had not been playing benchwarmers, had managed just 28.3% to that point. That is a difference of more than 30 percentage points.
With the win Gonzaga improves to 14-4 on the season and 6-1 in WCC play. The Zags are now tied with Saint Mary's for first place. The 6-1 Gaels have the night off. Next up? Gonzaga visits Saint Mary's on Thursday. San Diego, meanwhile, falls to 6-11 (1-5) and remains at the bottom of the standings.