The Gonzaga Bulldogs played University of Arkansas-Pine Bluff Saturday night in the Kennel, knocking off the Golden Lions 110-60 and moving to 2-0 on the season.
The Zags were looking to build off of their 95-64 win against Alabama State Tuesday night, where junior Corey Kispert had a career high of 28 points. GU got off to a hot start on Saturday, with freshman Anton Watson opening the game with a bucket while getting fouled, which was assisted by sophomore Filip Petrusev.
The Golden Lions kept pace, taking a 10-9 lead after some sharp shooting from the 3-point arc. Redshirt senior Ryan Woolridge would soon silence the hot hand, finding Kispert for a 3-pointer to give the Zags an edge. Moving forward, GU never again surrendered the lead. Woolridge finished the game with a line of 14 points, nine assists and five rebounds.
The Bulldogs constantly pushed the ball and defended tenaciously, forcing 17 total turnovers.
“I think we had less communication errors, which we talked about and worked on pretty diligently this week,” head coach Mark Few said. “We’re still striving to get better at that.”
Defense was a big part in the Saturday night win for the Zags, as they held the Golden Lions to 40% shooting and 20% beyond the arc. Watson said the biggest differences defensively from the first game were getting into guys in the front court and applying the pressure for a full 40 minutes.
“We gotta work on our post defense, but everything else I think is getting a lot better and tighter,” Watson said.
The Zags shot 62% overall and 39% from deep. Six players finished in double-digit scoring and Petrusev notched a career-high 25 points.
Petrusev said he is looking to become more reliable and an on-court leader. Additionally, he wants to improve defensively as the year progresses.
“They’ve (opponents) been going at me these last two games trying to get me into foul trouble,” Petrusev said.
In the second half, the Zags continued their dominance and stretched their lead to 54 at one point. This allowed freshmen Martynas Arlauskas and Pavel Zakharov to enjoy quality minutes.
“Those guys don’t get a chance to play a lot, but when they do, it’s huge for us,” Kispert said. “We have a lot of fun watching them on the bench.”
The Bulldogs also won the assists and rebounding battle 42-21 and 22-9, respectively.
GU invites University of North Dakota to the Kennel on Tuesday night at 6 p.m.