• Tue. Dec 6th, 2022

The big 1st half sees No. 6 Gonzaga past Portland State, 102-78

ByDenise T. Tatum

Nov 25, 2022

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Malachi Smith led six players in double figures with a season-high 23 points and No. 6…

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Malachi Smith led six players by double digits with a season-high 23 points, and No. 6 Gonzaga used a big first half to beat Portland State 102-78 Thursday night in the opening round of the Phil Knight Legacy tournament.

The Bulldogs (4-1) led the first half by 27 points, held a 55-31 lead at halftime and withstood a sloppy second half.

Gonzaga coach Mark Few said he let his players take note of games earlier in the day when Portland No. 1 scared North Carolina and No. 8 Duke of Oregon State was almost upset.

“There are good teams out here, if you’re not quite ready or at your best, you can bolt. I think that actually helped solidify our approach,” Few said.

Smith was the Southern Conference Player of the Year at Chattanooga last season but has yet to have a major shooting game with the Zags. That finally happened against the Vikings as Smith made 9 of 12 shots and all five of his 3-point attempts.

“I’m just trying to be ready whenever my number gets called and whatever I’m asked for,” Smith said.

Drew Timme scored 18 points and the only shot he missed was a dunk attempt midway through the second half. Rasir Bolton had 14 points and a career-high eight assists, while Julian Strawther, Anton Watson and Hunter Sallis all finished with 10. Gonzaga shot 60% for the game.

“That’s what makes this team special, we have multiple players who can do multiple things,” Smith said.

Jorell Saterfield led Portland State (2-3) with 21 points and Cameron Parker added 16. After an unexpected win at Oregon State, the Vikings hung with the Zags for about 10 minutes before Gonzaga got rolling.

Portland State was only 18-16 behind after Isiah Kirby’s layup, but Gonzaga scored 32 of the next 41 points and it was a mix of all the key figures that contributed. Timme had a few baskets. Bolton had seven points. Smith hit a trio of 3s.

Gonzaga shot 66% in the first half, had three players in double figures before the break.

“They are very good at spotting the defensive mistakes and something like that happened in the first half. … They went on and it was difficult for our boys to recover,” said Portland State coach Jace Coburn.

But the second-half performance clearly didn’t suit Few, who were particularly frustrated by some sloppiness. The Bulldogs had the majority of their starters on the ground well into the second half. Portland State cut the deficit to 16 on a couple of occasions but couldn’t get any closer.

“We challenged our team and they responded and felt like we did it in the second half,” Coburn said.

BIG PICTURE

Portland State: The Vikings led 2-1 in this tournament five years ago, scared Duke in the opening round and beat Stanford on the last day. These Vikings would like to achieve a similar result this time.

Gonzaga: The Bulldogs will have a big challenge at 7-foot-4 Purdue center Zach Edey in the semifinals. Timme probably won’t have it as easy as he did against Portland State, but he had 22 points and seven rebounds in last week’s win over Kentucky.

NEXT

Portland State: Plays West Virginia in a consolation game on Friday.

Gonzaga: Faces Purdue #24 in Friday’s semifinals.

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