It was another one of those nights for the Gonzaga Bulldogs, as they breezed by the visiting North Dakota Fighting Sioux 97-66 on Tuesday.
The Bulldogs (3-0) bullied the Fighting Sioux (1-1) with physicality and athleticism down low, as GU logged 64 points in the paint.
“It’s going to be one of our strengths this year,” head coach Mark Few said. “The guys have been delivering in there.”
The Zags began their interior excellence from the start and opened the game on a 15-2 run. Sophomore Filip Petrusev scored seven of those 15 points, most of which came near the rim.
“It’s always good to get those early catches and go to work down there,” said Petrusev, who finished with 19 points and 15 rebounds.
GU's rebounding ability was another sign of physical dominance against a smaller Sioux team, as the Bulldogs out-rebounded North Dakota 53-29.
“The more physical, the better,”said freshman Drew Timme, who scored 16 points. “Basketball is a physical game, and we look forward to that.”
Timme and Petrusev were both key factors in pulling away from a North Dakota team that refused to lay down in the first half.
After leading by 16 points with 12 minutes left in the first half, the Zags found themselves up nine points with eight minutes remaining after back-to-back 3-pointers from North Dakota’s Marlon Stewart.
Few called timeout, and the Zags responded with a 14-1 run spearheaded by Petrusev and Timme, who combined for eight of those 14 points.
That run stretched the lead to 40-22 and GU never looked back. The Bulldogs entered the half with a 55-36 edge.
The second half featured the same game plan for GU despite efforts from North Dakota. The Fighting Sioux began to double Petrusev whenever he touched the ball, leaving freshman Anton Watson open underneath the basket for an easy dunk.
“We did a good job adjusting on the fly,” Few said.
He also said North Dakota's defense tempted the Zags into shooting 3-pointers and his team took advantage of those open shots.
The Bulldogs shot 57.7% from the field, including 43.8% behind the arc. In comparison, GU held North Dakota to 35.1% shooting and blocked eight shots.
While the statistics suggest a strong defensive performance, the lack of communication was cited as a problem.
“We struggled defensively, and we didn’t communicate as well as we did the last two games,” Timme said. “We know what we can work on, especially on a road trip.”
That road trip is a game the Zags will play at Texas A&M, a mere three-hour car ride from Timme’s hometown of Richardson, Texas.
“I can’t wait,” Timme said. “I know all of my family and friends are coming down, so it’s going to be great to play in front of them.”
Redshirt seniors Ryan Woolridge and Admon Gilder are also from Texas, and expect family and friends to be in attendance.
“The atmosphere is going to be something special,” Few said. “It’s going to be a battle.”
The Bulldogs will face the Aggies in College Station, Texas, on Friday, Nov. 15 at 6 pm.