No. 1 Gonzaga intends to extend dominance of Pepperdine
Gonzaga is once again the No. 1 team in the nation, and it figures to easily stretch its winning streak to 15 games when it faces Pepperdine in a West Coast Conference contest on Wednesday night at Malibu, Calif.
The Bulldogs (21-2, 10-0 WCC) have defeated the Waves (7-20, 1-11) in each of the past 42 meetings, including 18 straight on the picturesque Pepperdine campus that sits on the hills above the Pacific Ocean
Gonzaga isn't having trouble with any of its conference foes with seven of its 10 WCC wins coming by 30 or more points. The average victory in WCC play is 29.1.
The Bulldogs have won 27 consecutive conference regular-season games since losing to BYU late in the 2019-20 season.
This season, Gonzaga's lowest margin of victory in WCC play is 16 -- a 78-62 win over visiting San Francisco on Jan. 20 and a 74-58 home victory over then-No. 22 Saint Mary's on Saturday.
Four Bulldogs scored in double digits against the Gaels, led by Drew Timme's 25 points on 11-of-16 shooting.
It was a much-needed effort by Timme as he averaged just 12.6 points over the previous five games. He exceeded 13 points in just one of those contests.
"I think I'm a pretty efficient player," Timme said after the Saturday victory. "I'm getting my swagger and confidence back, and it felt real nice."
Timme leads the Zags with a 17.7-points scoring average and he ranks second in rebounding at 6.3 boards per game.
Overall, five Gonzaga players average in double figures, including Chet Holmgren, who has a team-best 76 blocked shots and a team-high 9.3 rebounding average in addition to contributing 14.5 points per game.
Julian Strawther (12.8), Andrew Nembhard (10.7 points, team-best 5.3 assists) and Rasir Bolton (10.5) also average in double digits in a balanced attack that leads the nation in scoring at 90 points per game.
"That's kind of how we play," Timme said. "You look at the scoreboard and it's, 'Oh, he had 20, he had 20.' It's just how we play the game. I think that's the beauty of this program."
Reserve forward Anton Watson led the way with 19 points when Gonzaga steamrolled Pepperdine 117-83 on Jan. 8 in Spokane, Wash.
Houston Mallette led the Waves with 21 points, and the freshman is an even better player now.
Mallette scored 23 points in a 105-61 road loss to San Francisco on Thursday and followed up with a career-best 31 two nights later in a 91-85 home loss to BYU.
Against the Cougars, Mallette made 9 of 11 field-goal attempts, including 5 of 6 from 3-point range.
BYU coach Mark Pope gushed about Mallette's performance after the contest.
"He uses screens really well," Pope said. "For a freshman, he's super advanced on his stop-and-go. It's like a Reggie Miller feel to it. He'll stop and let you run into him and then explode off again. He was a handful. His IQ as a basketball player on the offensive end is really high. He was outstanding."
Mallette is second on the Waves in scoring at 12.4 points per game. Jan Zidek leads the squad at 13 points per game, and Maxwell Lewis (11.0) is third.
Pepperdine has lost seven WCC games by double-digit margins.
--Field Level Media
Updated February 15, 2022