Zags razz Zips, dump Huskies
By Dylan Kitzan/For the Independent
Two games, two wildly different shooting performances for the Gonzaga Bulldogs, but ultimately, it was two more wins chalked up this week as the Zags dispatched the Washington Huskies and Akron Zips to move their record to 10-0.
On Wednesday, Dec. 7, Gonzaga raced out to a 47-22 halftime lead and never looked back, downing the Huskies 98-71. Guard Nigel Williams-Goss blitzed his former team, dropping a season-high 23 points, and adding five assists and five rebounds in leading the Bulldogs to a win that was never in doubt.
Just over eight minutes into the game, the Zags led 27-6 with Jordan Mathews and Johnathan Williams combining for 19 of their first 23 points. Those two passed the torch to Williams-Goss, who scored nine points over the last 10 minutes of the half, never letting UW get closer than 17 during that span.
Gonzaga’s sharpshooting never subsided in the second half, giving the Huskies no chance to get back into the game. Williams-Goss and big man Przemek Karnowski each dropped 12 points over the final 20 minutes, leading the Bulldogs to victory.
The Zags got more competition three nights later when the Zips visited Spokane. In a bit of an ugly shooting performance against an Akron team that came in at 7-2 on the season, Gonzaga used a late 16-1 run to pull away in a 61-43 victory.
Again, it was Karnowski and Williams-Goss shouldering the scoring load, with the big man pouring in 14 points and Williams-Goss adding 11 in the win. As a team, though, Gonzaga connected on just four of 15 3-point attempts, committed as many turnovers as they had assists (11) and were outrebounded by Akron 42-36.
For as tough a time as the Zags had offensively for most of the game, however, their defense was outstanding for all 40 minutes. Gonzaga forced 13 turnovers and held Akron to an abysmal 16-60 shooting performance and, amazingly, did not let the Zips score over the game’s final 7:27, turning a close five-point game into a late rout. Guard Josh Perkins had three steals, Karnowski had a pair of blocks and Akron missed their final seven shots as the Zags improved to 10-0 for the first time in school history.
For as good as Gonzaga has been, however, there is room for improvement. The win over Akron marked the third consecutive game that the Zags have been outrebounded by their opponent after having no such games during their first seven contests. With conference play looming in the not-so-distant future and the Bulldogs always having a target on their backs against those familiar teams, winning the battle on the boards will be critical to maintaining their win streak.
Before battling WCC foes, Gonzaga has two non-conference games remaining. On Sunday, Dec. 18, the Bulldogs will head on the road to take on the Tennessee Volunteers. Tennessee has just a 4-4 record, but their last three losses have been competitive games against 16th-ranked Wisconsin, 13th-ranked Oregon and seventh-ranked North Carolina.
Three days later, the Zags will face South Dakota in Gonzaga’s last action until hosting conference foe Pepperdine at home on December 29.