Gonzaga didn't need its dominant frontcourt duo of Kyle Wiltjer and Domantas Sabonis to dominate the Dons.
Wiltjer and Sabonis each scored 15 points, but they weren't asked to carry the load like they had for most of this season since the loss of Przemek Karnowski. That was evidenced by an 11-0 run over the final five minutes of the first half during which Wiltjer and Sabonis were glued to the bench. There was no second half collapse, either. In fact, the Zags kept pushing even when the benches were emptied.
Long-haired, rarely-used guards Dustin Triano and Rem Bakamus both hit the deck diving for a loose ball in the final minutes. With a lead of nearly forty points, there was no quit in the Zags down the stretch.
San Francisco's backcourt duo of Devin Watson (11 points) and Tim Derksen (3 points) could not get going up in Spokane. Those two combined for 45 points earlier this season when the Dons took the Zags to overtime in San Francisco.
Tonight it was Uche Ofoegbu who led the Dons, and the game, with 16 points.
Silas Melson finished with a career high five made three pointers on just nine attempts and tied his career high with 15 points. He made just 11 three pointers this season coming into the day. A talented shooter coming out of high school, the sophomore had been struggling to keep his confidence up this year. Tonight might be just what the doctor ordered.
Gonzaga's defense was strong from the start. The normally high-scoring Dons (77 points per game entering today) needed 4:30 to score a point and 6:19 to score from the field.
While the Dons struggled to score and were forced to settle for threes, they missed their first nine field goals of which six were from long range, Gonzaga was red hot. The Zags made 15 threes tonight.
The second half swoon that Gonzaga fans had grown begrudgingly accustomed to this season was averted by a strong start from Domantas Sabonis. The sophomore forward scored 10 quick points capped by a monster, two hand slam with 12:34 remaining. That prompted Rex Walters to call a timeout.
Sabonis then immediately picked up his fourth foul on the following possession.
But this wasn't a night the Zags needed their bigs. The lead grew to as much as 41 points with 4:32 to play (84-43). Moments earlier the Zags had doubled up the Dons 80-40 by scoring 1.379 points per possession. At that point it was time to empty the benches.
With the win Gonzaga moves to 17-5 on the season and 9-2 in WCC play. As of writing the Zags are half a game behind first place Saint Mary's (17-2, 8-1) but the Gaels hold the tiebreaker. San Francisco falls to 11-10 (5-6).