Hachimura leads No. 3 Gonzaga over Idaho State
SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) — Gonzaga rode a strong effort from Rui Hachimura to open the season with a rout.
Hachimura scored 33 points to help the third-ranked Bulldog to a 120-79 win over Idaho State in the season opener for both teams Tuesday night.
Zach Norvell Jr. added 23 points for Gonzaga (1-0), which has the highest preseason ranking in school history. Norvell Jr. also added seven rebounds.
“I was able to get hot for a little bit but when Rui got it going like that, we want to keep feeding him and play off of him,” said Norvell Jr.
It was business as usual for Gonzaga in the opening minutes of the game. The Zags pushed out to an early 18-7 lead, but the Bengals went on a 9-0 run spanning 2:35. Making the score 18-16 with 12:20 to go in the first half.
Brandon Boyd scored 13 points for Idaho State (0-1). Boyd went 3-4 from the field during the Bengal run. Kelvin Jones the 6-foot-10 center for Idaho State made an impact on defense. But he picked up his third foul at the end of the first half limiting his time on the court. Jones eventually fouled out in the second half.
“I’m proud of my guys,” said Idaho State coach Bill Evans. “I think we played hard, and the score just got away from us.”
After the outburst from Idaho State, Gonzaga answered with several scoring runs of their own to end the first half. After a timeout from coach Few, Gonzaga started to attack the paint instead of settling for jump shots.
“I don’t think we are going to play light’s out perfect all game, that’s basketball,” said Gonzaga coach Mark Few. “Teams make runs and make adjustments and every shot doesn’t go in.”
The Zags led 37-29 before going on a 10-2 run over the course of 1:28. The Bulldog run gave them a 47-31 advantage changing the game. The Zags put the game into cruise control for the rest of the contest. Including complete dominance in the second half featuring highlight reel dunks from Hachimura amid an offensive burst for the Bulldogs.
Despite the scoring output, Hachimura feels the Zags still have work to do.
“We have to play together, we just started. I think they scored 80 or something, so we got to play more defense,” said Hachimura.
Corey Kispert added 14 points, shooting 50% from 3-point range for the Zags.
“That is going to be our strength all year is, we can go seven deep, probably eight when Tillie gets back,” said Few. “We have guys that can really score, all those guys are capable of getting over 20 a game.”
The 120 points scored by Gonzaga was the most points scored in a game since 1994 for the Bulldogs.
Gonzaga played without star forward Killian Tillie, who is out for eight weeks with an ankle injury. But the Bulldogs had little trouble beating the challengers from the Big Sky Conference.
Idaho State plays Boise State on Saturday.
Gonzaga hosts Texas Southern on Saturday.