SPOKANE, Wash. (AP)—Derek Raivio knew Gonzaga needed to bounce back after a stunning loss earlier in the week.
Raivio scored 17 of his 25 points in the decisive first half as the No. 18 Bulldogs raced to a big early lead and beat No. 13 Washington 97-77 on Saturday night, extending the nation’s longest home winning streak to 45 games.
“This was a game for us to respond and show what we are made of,” Raivio said after scoring at least 20 for the 10th time this season.
The Zags rebounded a surprising loss Tuesday at Washington State—their first to the nearby Cougars this decade—and beat archrival Washington for the eighth time in nine meetings.
Freshman Matt Bouldin, making his first collegiate start, scored a season-high 21 points for Gonzaga (9-2), which added to its impressive resume of beating North Carolina and Texas already this season.
“Bouldin—he’s awesome,” Washington coach Lorenzo Romar said.
Spencer Hawes scored 20 points to lead the Huskies (7-1), who were playing their first road game of the season and were the highest ranked team to play in the three-year history of the McCarthey Athletic Center. Washington, which had cruised through seven home games against the likes of Nicholls State, Sacramento State and Idaho, never led.
“We were no match for them tonight,” Romar said of his team of eight freshman and sophomores on the 12-man roster. “We wanted to know where we were against a good team on the road—and we found out.”
The game was the last in the annual series the instate rivals have played for the last decade. Washington is choosing not to renew the contract because it says it has no room on its national schedule next season.
Gonzaga has never lost in 33 games in its raucous new arena, which Bulldogs players said was going even more bonkers than usual Saturday. The Zags’ last home loss was on Feb. 19, 2003, to Portland at the old on-campus Martin Centre next door to the new “Kennel.”
“I’ve never experienced anything like that before,” Bouldin said of the noise that at times seemed to shake the concrete-and-glass building. “I feel that crowd was like 10 notches above our usual crowd—and our average crowd is something else.”
So was Raivio.
The elusive senior scored 17 points on 4-for-5 shooting from 3-point range in the first half. His steal and a layup through two Huskies put Gonzaga up 38-20. Another Raivio steal and breakaway lay in while getting fouled gave the Zags their biggest lead until the game’s final minute, 49-29.
Washington tried freshman Quincy Pondexter on him, then, when that failed, Ryan Appleby. Both are taller—but neither could stay with Raivio, generously listed at 6-foot-3.
“You can’t lose Derek Raivio,” Romar said. “There is no way this team should go out there and lose him.”
Only Hawes, the hyped Washington prep player of the year last season, scoring the final six points of the half kept the young Huskies down by 56-43 at halftime. It was Gonzaga’s highest-scoring and most inspired half of the season.
“Obviously, I think our guys had an edge after what happened Tuesday night,” Gonzaga coach Mark Few said.
Few sharpened that edge.
“I was ready to play the next day,” forward David Pendergraft said. “Especially with the speeches Coach Few gave us. I was ready to fight someone.”
Gonzaga shot 55 percent—including 6-for-11 from 3-point range—while netting its season-high for points in an opening period.
The Zags were just 3-for-10 to begin the second half, but still led by 16. The closest the Huskies got was 71-60, on a 3-pointer by freshman Phil Nelson with 11:31 left.
But Gonzaga went back up big again, 89-71, with 4:42 remaining. Pierre Marie Altitor-Cespedes made a 3 and then converted a steal into a dunk that sent the frenzied, soldout crowd into a building-shaking roar.
From there, the crowd reveled in chants of “Overrated” to the beaten Huskies. WSU’s crowd had yelled the same taunt to the Bulldogs four days earlier.
Hawes’ support came from Jon Brockman’s 13 points and 12 rebounds and Quincy Pondexter’s 13 points. But Justin Dentmon missed his first 10 shots. The sophomore point guard, who led the Huskies past Gonzaga last December when he scored 11 of his team’s final 17 points, had just seven Saturday—on 2-for-14 shooting.
“We have a chance to improve,” Hawes said. “This is not the same team you’re going to see in a week. Or a month.”