Two days after their highest-profile win of the season — defeating No. 8 University of Texas, the No. 1 Gonzaga University men’s basketball team (3-0) picked up right where they left off in their 84-57 win over Alcorn State University (0-4) on Monday in the McCarthey Athletic Center.
The Zags were led by sophomore guard Julian Starwther, who finished the game with a career-high 18 points while missing just two of his nine shots.
Strawther helped GU get off to a fast start, scoring 10 of the team’s first 16 points. Freshman center Chet Holmgren also contributed early on as the 7-footer had 10 first half points, including a two-handed dunk off of an alley-oop pass from junior forward Drew Timme.
Following a quiet two-point performance against Texas on Saturday, Holmgren was criticized by some for not being assertive enough. Against Alcorn State, however, Holmgren didn’t hold back as he finished with 11 points, six rebounds, four assists, three blocks and a steal.
Aside from its starters, GU got quality minutes from its bench players, most notably freshman guard Hunter Sallis who finished with 16 points across 25 minutes. He also made some big plays on the defensive end, a common theme in the first few games and something head coach Mark Few has taken note of.
“Hunter can really pressure the ball, too,” Few said. “I think we can continue to grow that, where we can maybe stick him on those high-level scorers that are coming down the pipe.”
With GU playing smoldering defense, especially in the first half, Alcorn State struggled to get anything going offensively as freshman forward Keondre Montgomery was the only player on his team with more than 10 points. He finished the game with 13 points.
Despite the blowout win, senior guard Andrew Nembhard saw room for improvement.
“You can’t get too high or too low,” Nembhard said. “It’s a big win for us, I’m obviously really happy about it, but we got a lot of work to do.”
After defeating Alcorn State, GU will host Bellarmine University (0-2) on Friday, at 6 p.m. From there, the Zags will travel to Las Vegas, Nevada to play in the Good Sam Empire Classic presented by Continental Tire. The event is considered one of college basketball’s top early-season tournaments.
In Las Vegas, GU will play Central Michigan University, UCLA and Duke University.