Wiltjer leads No. 13 Gonzaga over Washington State 69-60
NICHOLAS K. GERANIOS
Dec. 03, 2015
PULLMAN, Wash. (AP) — Kyle Wiltjer was unstoppable in the first 10 minutes for Gonzaga, scoring 20 points on a barrage of long shots.
That outburst provided the cushion as the No. 13 Bulldogs held off stubborn Washington State 69-60 on Wednesday night in what could be the final game of a century-old series.
"They played us really tough," said Wiltjer, who finished with 22 points. "This was our first true road test."
Wiltjer made 8 of 11 shots to open the game, including four 3-pointers, as Gonzaga built a 29-14 lead.
"Yeah, he gets like that," Gonzaga coach Mark Few said. "It's not an out-of-body thing. He gets like that in practice sometimes."
"We needed every one of them," he added.
Wiltjer cooled off after that, making only two more free throws in the final moments of the game.
"They were doubling and playing real good defense in the second half," said Wiltjer, a preseason All-America candidate.
"Wiltjer was the difference in the game," Washington State coach Ernie Kent said. "We never really gained control of the game."
Kent also pointed to 40 percent shooting by his team.
"We had 12 point-blank missed layups," Kent said.
Josh Perkins added 16 points, and Silas Melson had 12 for Gonzaga (5-1), which did not put the game away until the closing minutes. Domantas Sabonis had nine points and 14 rebounds.
Gonzaga center Przemek Karnowski did not play because of back spasms.
"It got really bad on the bus ride down here," Few said, adding that Karnowski would see a doctor on Thursday.
Que Johnson scored 18 points for Washington State (4-1). Ike Iroegbu added 17.
Washington State took an early lead, but Wiltjer hit four 3-pointers in the span of 4 minutes to key a 19-4 run as Gonzaga took a 21-10 advantage. Wiltjer had 20 points in the opening 10 minutes to help Gonzaga build a 29-14 lead.
Johnson scored five points during a 9-0 run that cut Gonzaga's lead to 36-30.
Gonzaga led 38-30 at halftime, after holding the Cougars to 37 percent shooting.
Gonzaga opened the second half with an 8-2 run for a 46-32 lead. Washington State scored six straight points, but the Bulldogs replied with five of their own to maintain a 13-point lead.
The teams traded baskets through the middle portion of the second half, with Gonzaga maintaining a double-digit lead.
Ny Redding had a steal and layup to cut Gonzaga's lead to 57-48 with eight minutes left. Iroegbu's layup made it 59-53 with 5:14 left.
Perkins replied with a 3-pointer for Gonzaga, and the Bulldogs held off Washington State the rest of the way.
"I knew it wasn't going to be easy," Few said. "I knew they were going to give us a real tussle, and they did."
Neither team shot well in the contest between two high-scoring clubs. Gonzaga shot 42.9 percent and Washington State just 40 percent.
Washington State's Josh Hawkinson, who came in averaging 18 points and 9.7 rebounds, was held to four points and six rebounds.
Kent said two quick fouls that Hawkinson picked up hampered his game.
Washington State leads the overall series 98-52, but the Zags have dominated since the turn of the century. Despite playing 150 times since 1907, this is the last scheduled meeting between schools 80 miles apart. Washington State wants to continue, but Gonzaga is looking to schedule other opponents.
Kent made a public plea to continue the series, pointing to the energy in the building and the competitive contest.
"We should play," he said.
Few said Gonzaga had opportunities to play some different opponents in coming years.
"I'm sure we'll be able to get back and hook up again," Few said.
Gonzaga made just 7 of 21 3-pointers in the game, while Washington State made just 2 of 10.
Gonzaga: Few leads all active Division I coaches with an .810 winning percentage. ... Sabonis is averaging 14.4 points and 8.6 rebounds per game. ... Gonzaga plays four Pac-12 teams this season: Washington, Washington State, Arizona and UCLA.
Washington State: The Cougars have played their first five games at home. .. They average 79 points per game and are limiting opponents to 64 points. ... The Cougars are 48-224 all-time against ranked opponents, last winning in 2013.
Gonzaga hosts No. 19 Arizona on Saturday.
Washington State hosts Portland State on Sunday.