With six teams ranked in the top ten losing Saturday, Gonzaga’s starting lineup seemed like an omen as the number one team would be without its number one player.
Silas Melson (4 points) got his fourth start of the season in place of Nigel Williams-Goss (15.6 ppg), who sat out with a sprained ankle. But Gonzaga’s not just a top ten team, they’re the number one team in the country and they sent a shorthanded statement.
Santa Clara’s KJ Feagin led the game with 18 points. Four Zags reached double figures in scoring, led by Jordan Mathews (16 points)
Don’t be fooled by Santa Clara’s 13-12 (7-5 WCC) record. The Broncos have been a legit team since Feagin, who missed the first 12 games of the year with injury, returned to the lineup. Gonzaga hadn’t trailed in over 266 game minutes.
Santa Clara needed just two minutes to put an end to that.
While the Broncos ended one streak, they couldn’t break the one the Zags (24-0, 12-0 WCC) care most about. Gonzaga won 90-55 to stay perfect on the season.
It was a battle for most of the first half. The Broncos even led by multiple possessions after back-to-back threes from Feagin and Jared Brownridge (13 points) at the 11:24 mark.
The three point arc was the Broncos best friend early. Four of their first six makes came from deep, while Gonzaga missed all but one of their threes over the first 18 minutes.
But then center Zach Collins (14 points) canned a three and Josh Perkins (15 points) drained two threes of his own to close out the half.
Santa Clara never recovered in the second half. After holding Gonzaga to nine of its first 20 shots the Zags hit 15 of their next 20.
Gonzaga shot 60.8% from the field and held Santa Clara to just 39.6%. Standard operating procedure for the nation’s sixth ranked team in effective FG% offense and top ranked eFG% defense.
Up next for the fourth place Broncos is a trip to San Francisco on Thursday, February 9, while Gonzaga travels to Loyola Marymount that same day.