No. 18 Gonzaga beats Bakersfield 78-59
SPOKANE, Wash. (AP)—As a tuneup for this weekend’s West Coast Conference tournament, No. 18 Gonzaga’s win over Cal State Bakersfield was just right.
Matt Bouldin scored 15 points and everyone on the roster played as the Bulldogs beat Bakersfield 78-59 on Tuesday night in a game that wasn’t as close as the final score.
Bol Kong scored 13 points and Robert Sacre added 10 for the Bulldogs (25-5), who had already wrapped up their 10th consecutive WCC title and a bye into Sunday’s semifinals of the league tournament.
It was the eight-day gap between Gonzaga’s last league game and likely first tournament game that prompted coach Mark Few to schedule this nonconference match.
“It’s such a long break,” Few said. “It’s nice to have something in between.”
Gonzaga’s regular starters played much less than normal, and some little-seen reserves got plenty of minutes. That was in part because Gonzaga took a 43-15 halftime lead against the overmatched Roadrunners.
“I wanted them to go out as hard as they could,” Few said. “Then I wanted to get some subs in.”
It was senior night for the Bulldogs, as Bouldin, Will Foster and Chris Pantarolo-Maag played their final home game. Bouldin on Monday was named the WCC player of the year.
While Bouldin has been a starter since his freshman year, Foster, at 7-foot-5 the tallest player to ever wear a Zags uniform, was a role player. The 5-11 Pontarolo-Maag saw little playing time.
This was the final game of the season for Cal State Bakersfield (7-22), which will complete its transition to full Division I status next season. It fell to 0-5 against WCC teams this season.
Trent Blakley led Bakersfield with 19 points, while Donavan Bragg added 13. The Roadrunners, after shooting around 20 percent most of the game, finished at 33 percent and were outrebounded 44-34. Gonzaga shot 51 percent.
Coach Keith Brown said his team, which started no one taller than 6-6, had trouble with Gonzaga’s size. But he was pleased they outscored the Zags in the second half to narrow the margin.
“I’m proud of the way the kids fought back,” Brown said.
It figured to be a long night for the Roadrunners when Foster lined up for the opening jump against the 6-4 Blakley, who was more than a foot shorter.
The outcome was never in doubt. Gonzaga led 17-6 with 10 minutes left in the first half, and a 16-3 run expanded the lead to 33-11 with 4:12 to go.
Gonzaga led 43-15 at halftime, after holding Bakersfield to 21 percent shooting (7 of 32).
An 11-2 run to open the second half gave Gonzaga a 54-17 lead and the Bulldogs coasted to the victory. Bakersfield made a late run against Gonzaga’s reserves.
Few said the Bulldogs need to focus now on playing well at the WCC tournament in Las Vegas.
“We are going to be facing some hungry, hungry teams that are desperate to make the postseason,” Few said.
Few, in his 11th season, has 289 wins with the Bulldogs, one short of tying Hank Anderson, who won 290 games in 21 seasons. Few and Roy Williams of North Carolina are the only active coaches with at least five years’ experience who have won at least 80 percent of their games.
Gonzaga is 75-4 in the McCarthey Athletic Center since it opened in 2004. The only home loss this season was to Wake Forest.