Gonzaga, in the brutally honest words of top scorer and team spokesperson Drew Timme, was “tired of playing barn burner” against a few of the undermatched opponents that came through McCarthey Athletic Center before the holiday break.
The Bulldogs needed a late-game surge to beat Kent State, struggled to create separation against Northern Illinois and watched a similar story unfold Dec. 20 versus Montana – a game decided by just 10 points.
Given some of the close calls they’ve had to this point, and the level of opponent that was in Spokane on Wednesday, Timme felt it was time for the Zags to play the role of enforcer.
Gonzaga shattered a school record for margin of victory, set a single-game record for field goals made and flirted with the record for field-goal percentage, thumping NAIA Eastern Oregon 120-42 in the Bulldogs’ first game back from the holiday break.
Before Wednesday’s 78-point blowout, the previous record for margin of victory was a 61-point rout of Denver (101-40) in 2018. Gonzaga set the mark while shooting 70.8% from the field, which tied the second-highest shooting clip in school history (2003 vs. Washington State).
For much of the game, the Bulldogs were also on pace to break the field-goal percentage record of 71.8%, set in 1996 against Saint Mary’s, but they did make history with 51 made field goals, surpassing the previous record of 50 set against Carroll College in 1980. The Zags were shooting 75% from the field midway through the second half.
Gonzaga’s Hunter Sallis (5) leans around an Eastern Oregon defender for a shot in the non-conference game between the Eastern Oregon Mountaineers and the Gonzaga Bulldogs in the McCarthey Athletic Center Wednesday, Dec . 28, 2022 at Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington. (Jesse Tinsley/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW)
“Well, thank God we finally took care of a team we’re supposed to like that,” Timme said. “Tired of playing barn burner with NIU, Kent (State) and Montana. It was nice for all of us to play good.”
“All of us” wasn’t much of a stretch.
All 12 Gonzaga players who got on the floor Wednesday found their way onto the score sheet. Seven finished in double figures and the Bulldogs’ bench outscored Eastern Oregon’s team 52-42.
That included season-high production from reserve center Efton Reid, who individually outscored the Mountaineers 16-14 in the second half and didn’t miss a shot from the field (8 of 8). Reid’s 16 points were his most as a Zag and matched his career high, set last season at LSU.
“That’s kind of been what we’ve been asking him to do and when he does what we ask him to do, he can be pretty effective,” Gonzaga coach Mark Few said of Reid. “Obviously, those aren’t Division I athletes or Division I size, but at least he was in the right place and delivering and did some nice things defensively, as did Dom (Harris). So that’s good, that’s good. We can keep growing that piece, hopefully. “
Timme, who’d averaged 27.6 points over GU’s past five games, led the Zags with 18 points on 8-of-10 shooting from the floor while moving ahead of Matt Santangelo and Kevin Pangos on the school’s career scoring list. The senior forward, now GU’s fifth all-time leading scorer, played just 18 minutes and checked out for the final time with 14:31 remaining and the Bulldogs nursing a 76-32 lead.
“He’s the total package … I don’t even know if we get his full-go mode,” said Eastern Oregon coach Chris Kemp, whose team played Timme and the Zags in a preseason exhibition last year. “He can go about 50% against us and be all right. He’s pretty fun to watch when I’m at home and not on the sideline, but he’s a great player.”
Eastern Oregon, which played without top scorer and North Idaho College product Phillip Malatare (ankle), scored 20 points inside the game’s initial 11 minutes but managed just 22 in the final 29 minutes and shot 4 of 25 (16%) in the second half while committing 28 turnovers.
“It got away quick in the second half,” Kemp said. “I think I looked up at the 8-minute mark, we’d scored six points in the second half and that’s just going to be tough.”
Rasir Bolton scored 14 points for Gonzaga. Anton Watson and Nolan Hickman chipped in 13 apiece, and Julian Strawther and Malachi Smith each scored 10 points. Smith had his first double-double as a GU player, adding 10 rebounds, and Watson finished with six rebounds to go with a game-high four steals.
Gonzaga turns its attention to Saturday’s West Coast Conference opener against visiting Pepperdine at 2 p.m.
“It was good for us to be able to get up and run up and down and play against somebody as we try to get out legs back,” Few said.
Local journalism is essential.
Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.
Follow along with the Zags
Subscribe to our Gonzaga Basketball newsletter to stay up with the latest news.