Malachi Smith led six teammates by double digits on his season-high 27 points, and No. 8 Gonzaga used a dominant first half to edge Portland 115-75.
SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) — Malachi Smith had a season-high 27 points and hit seven 3-pointers, and No. 8 Gonzaga capitalized on a dominant first half to defeat Portland 115-75 on Saturday night.
Never behind, Gonzaga (16-3, 5-0 West Coast Conference) sped to a 40-14 lead with seven minutes remaining in the first half en route to his best 75th straight home win and 15th win in a row against Portland.
Gonzaga unleashed a 3-second barrage early, hitting six in the first 10 minutes while Portland (9-11, 1-4) shot 0 for 9 from behind the arc during that time.
“We knew their game plan was to wrap up the paint, so the coach told us to just be ready to shoot,” Smith said. “And we were ready. Once you hit that first punch, you know it’s going to get easier. The rim is starting to look like an ocean.”
After a 75-74 win at BYU on Thursday night, coach Mark Few wanted to make sure tonight’s effort was the same.
“Overall it was a really good performance, especially after an emotional win and a quick turnaround,” said Few. “Malachi and Julian (Strawther) just effortlessly shoot really deep, so I think that helps us spread things out.”
Portland reduced the deficit to 17 with 5:16 at halftime, but the Bulldogs responded with a 19-3 run and Gonzaga led 61-28 at halftime.
Drew Timme scored 18 points for Gonzaga. Strawther added 14 points and seven rebounds, Nolan Hickman had 13 points, and Anton Watson and Ben Gregg added 12 each. Ten players scored points for the Bulldogs, who have now won 11 straight games.
Moses Wood led the Pilots with 19 points and shot 6 of 13. Kristian Sjolund added 17 points and 12 rebounds.
“We flipped the ball a couple of times and all of those turnovers resulted in baskets at the other end. Lots of 3s and lots of easy shots,” said Portland coach Shantay Legans. “They were just banging on the gas the whole time and we didn’t do our best tonight.”
The Zags have now racked up 11 straight wins following their December 2 loss to Baylor and remain at the top of the WCC standings.
Portland have now lost seven of their last nine after a 7-4 start.
Gonzaga hosts Loyola-Marymount on Thursday
Portland hosts San Diego on Thursday
https://www.king5.com/article/sports/college/smith-scores-27-leads-no-8-gonzaga-over-portland-115-75/281-5027c14f-6186-4f6a-9670-355dcc80af42 Smith scores 27, leads No. 8 Gonzaga over Portland 115-75