Ayayi Pacific

Joel Ayayi had 12 points on 50% shooting and four rebounds in the GU win.

The Gonzaga men’s basketball team (15-0, 6-0) defeated the University of Pacific Tigers (5-3, 2-2) 95-49 Saturday night in the McCarthey Athletic Center.

The Zags were coming off 73-59 victory against the Saint Mary’s Gaels last Saturday in Moraga, CA. Senior forward Corey Kispert led the Zags with 17 points on 45% shooting from the field and 50% shooting from behind the three point arc against SMC. Redshirt junior guard Joel Ayayi added 16 points of his own, complemented by 14 points from sophomore forward Drew Timme and freshman guard Jalen Suggs. Struggling in the first half, the Zags came back and asserted themselves on the court, eventually running away with the game comfortably. The Zags held the Gaels to a shooting percentage of 34% from the field.

The Zags looked to continue its undefeated season against the Tigers. The third place team in the WCC are coming off a 85-68 loss against the Pepperdine Waves Thursday night in Malibu. Pierre Crockrell II led the Tigers with 19 points, missing only one shot in the entire game, complemented by 15 points from Jahbrill Price-Noel. Led by former NBA guard Damon Stoudamire, the team from Stockton would bring a tough defensive challenge for the Zags. The Tigers average 7.3 steals a game.

Prior to the start of the game, the Zags appeared loose and calm, dancing and laughing in the pregame warmups, Once the whistle blew, the Zags were strictly in business mode, getting off to a quick start.

The Zags eliminated that defensive presence from the Tigers at the tip, jumping out to a 26-5 lead in the first eight minutes of the game. The Tigers had five turnovers to start the game, and while the Zags only scored four points off those turnovers, Timme came out the gate hot, scoring six points on a three pointer and a three point play, later adding a shifty euro step for another pair of points. 

“I thought we challenged every shot tonight,” GU head coach Mark Few said.

The Tigers would not hit double figure points until the 11 minute mark of the first half,  where the Zags would make it a 34-10 lead. At that point of the game, the Tigers only scored four on-court points compared to the 23 on court points from the Zags. Heading towards the end of the first half, Timme would continue to lead the charge for the Zags, picking and choosing his moments to use whatever post move he wanted on any Tiger defender.

The Zags ended the half on a 8-2 run, giving the Zags a 52-21 lead heading into the locker room. Timme led all scorers with 14 points at the half, shooting 71.4% from the field. Junior transfer guard Andrew Nembhard and Suggs each had nine points, with Suggs having six assists and six rebounds. The Tigers finished with 10 turnovers heading into halftime, with Daniss Jenkins leading the Tigers in scoring with seven points. 

“One team this has is that they can really really pass the ball,” Few said.

To start the second half, the Zags came out with a similar sense of fire and preparedness, starting the second half with a 15-4 run finished off by a signature Kispert three pointer. Following the three point shot from Kispert, Timme continued his dominance with a behind the back pass to Kispert for a layup, giving the Zags a 73-27 lead. Timme finished the night with 22 points.

“Just as a collective group, we came in more focused,” Timme said. “I was proud of ourselves for that.”

The Zags would maintain its lead for the entire game, outnumbering the Tigers in every positive statistic in the game. The Zags shot 49.2% from the field compared to the 27.9% from the Tigers while also shooting 46.2% from behind the arc compared to the 12.5% from the Tigers. The Zags also outrebounded the Tigers 50-37 and outscored the Tigers from the bench 28-11.

The Zags will put their perfect season record on the line Thursday night against San Diego in San Diego at 6 .m. 

Vinny Saglimbeni is a sports editor. Follow him on Twitter: @vinnysaglimbeni.

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