Cutting the lead to just one at 5:48, No. 6/7 Gonzaga outscored the Broncos 14-2 to end the first half as Santa Clara fell 79-57 in Spokane on Saturday afternoon at the McCarthey Center. Bronco freshman Matt Hubbard, who grew up less than an hour away in Colville, Wash., tied a career-high with 15, including a career-best five threes.
"There is only so much you can control against a team like that. You have to take care of the ball and can't turn it over. Our turnovers turned into 28 points for them," said Bronco head coach Kerry Keating. "There isn't a better point guard in the country than Kevin Pangos. He is the most all-around player in our league."
Santa Clara is 7-10 and 2-4 in the WCC. Gonzaga is 16-1 and 5-0 in the WCC.
Santa Clara shot 35.2 percent from the field (19 of 54), including 45.0 percent from beyond the arc (9 of 20). The Broncos added 71.4 percent from the foul line (10 of 14). They collected 26 rebounds, 11 assists, four steals, no blocks and 10 turnovers.
Hubbard scored 15 points on five of nine shooting from beyond the arc. "He has been a nice surprise for us," said Keating. "He has been a nice steady improvement. He needs to develop some consistency, but by his senior year he will be quite a player. He has some fearlessness in him. He is learning."
Gonzaga shot 53.4 percent from the field (31 of 58), including 45.5 percent from beyond the arc (5 of 11). The Zags added 80.0 percent from the foul line (12 of 15). They collected 41 rebounds, 16 assists, six steals, four blocks and just six turnovers.
Gonzaga had four players score double figures. Przemek Karnowski led the Zags with 18 points and nine boards. "He is good. He is a load. You have to do your work early on with him," said Keating.
Kyle Wiltjer scored 16, Kevin Pangos 13 with four assists and Byron Wesley added 11. Domantas Sabonis had 11 points and nine boards off the bench.
(on Gonzaga's size advantage): "Gonzaga will have a size advantage on just about everybody in the whole country with those three guys," added Keating. (how do they compare to other Gonzaga teams): "The coaches are smart and do a good job. They are always going to be good and it's hard to compare them to other Gonzaga teams right now."
GU led by 13 at the half, 44-31, and built on it before Brownridge's three-point play cut the lead to nine at 17:46, 46-35. Jalen Richard and Johnson made threes, but Gonzaga continued to score big, making its lead 16 (60-44) on a jumper by Karnowski in the paint at 12:02.
Hubbard made his fifth three at 11:36 after hitting his career-best fourth at 14:59. It is the most by a Bronco freshman since Brownridge hit seven at Pepperdine on March 1, 2014 (Brownridge scored 38 points that day).
Wiltjer's scored five straight points and GU had a 20-point lead at 9:28, 67-47. Gonzaga made its lead 21 on a jumper by Sabonis at 1:50. Notre Dame graduate transfer Dominic Romeo saw play in his second WCC game when he checked in with less than a minute to go and he made one free throw with 36.2 seconds left in the game. Gonzaga won 79-47.
The Zags led 44-31 at the half. With Karnowski dunking it for Gonzaga's opening basket, the Zags started off with an 8-2 run. After a Bronco timeout, Brandon Clark dumped it in from three feet out and then Brownridge scored a floater over Karnowski at 16:47.
Pangos' four-point play was followed by a three by Gary Bell, Jr. and the Zags had an 11-point lead at 15:58.
Hubbard showed early he wanted to impress his almost-60 friends and family in attendance. He started by crushing back-to-back triples from the top of the key. Gonzaga kept pace offensively, but after Brownridge hit back-to-back baskets, including a three, Mark Few whistled for time, leading 21-15 at 12:05.
Wiltjer's dunk was followed by a floater by Clark and Brownridge inside to cut the Zags lead to five, 25-20, at 9:01. Hubbard and Johnson hit threes back-to-back. Kratch's three-point play got the Broncos within one at 5:48, 30-29 Zags.
GU let that be its spark as the Zags outscored the Broncos 14-2 to finish the first half. Ndumanya's bucket at 3:11 was the lone basket for the Broncos in the final 5:48. Hubbard and Brownridge had nine points each in the first half. Karnowski had 12 for the Zags with four boards.
NOTES: Starters for the Broncos (career starts): Brandon Clark (54), Nate Kratch (10), Denzel Johnson (28), Jared Brownridge (50) and Matt Hubbard (15) … Hubbard had almost 60 family and friends at the game as he grew up less than an hour from Spokane.