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Gonzaga's offense reaches season-high efficiency numbers in 102-76 thumping of Pacific

Feb. 17—Gonzaga's offense usually has a chance to hit some pretty high numbers when Graham Ike and Ryan Nembhard are in sync.

The Bulldogs also tend to reach another gear when Nolan Hickman's connecting from the 3-point line.

If those things are already happening, bench production from Braden Huff is just an added bonus.

Ike didn't miss a shot from the field, Nembhard reached double-digit assist numbers for the second time this week, Hickman delivered from behind the arc, Huff was efficient off the bench and the final result was anything but surprising Saturday night against Pacific at McCarthey Athletic Center.

Gonzaga won 102-76, reaching triple figures for the sixth time this year while converting a season-high 66.4% (37 of 56) of its attempts from the field, beating a previous high of 63.4% set against NAIA Eastern Oregon. It was the first time the Bulldogs hit at least 60% of their shots against a Division I opponent and the percentage was actually up to 70% with about 5 minutes to go in the second half on Saturday.

"We had a good week on offense, even back to Kentucky," Gonzaga coach Mark Few said. "The offense has been clicking really, really well. Guys have been sharing it and making the right basketball play. Part of it's just stepping up and making shots. Guys have done a nice job, Nolan especially has really been hunting shots and, obviously, Graham's been delivering in there."

Pacific's smaller lineups don't make the Tigers particularly equipped to handle the size and strength of Gonzaga's frontcourt. Ike took advantage right out of the gate, scoring six points inside the game's first 4 minutes.

The junior forward missed only three shots when Gonzaga visited Pacific in Stockton, California, last month, scoring 20 points on 8-of-11 shooting from the field. He apparently vowed to improve his efficiency numbers when the teams met again. Ike led all scorers with 21 points, going 9 for 9 from the field before checking out for the final time with 11 minutes, 28 seconds left.

"He's a bucket," senior forward Anton Watson said. "When we get it to him, we know he's going to score and it's easy to play with him."

Nobody seems to find it easier than Nembhard, the first-year Gonzaga point guard who's arguably in the middle of his best stretch this season. With older brother Andrew in the crowd — the former GU point guard and second-year Indiana Pacer had a window in his schedule with the NBA All-Star break — Ryan finished with 18 points and 10 assists. Nembhard had 11 assists two days prior against Loyola Marymount.

Dropping the ball off to Ike, Hickman or Huff usually led to good things for Gonzaga . Hickman finished with 16 points on 5-of-10 shooting from the field and 4 of 8 from the 3-point line. Huff scored 17 points on 6-of-8 shooting from the field and 2 of 3 from the 3-point line despite playing only 12 minutes off the bench.

Pacific, which plays a five-out lineup designed to hurt teams from the perimeter, gave Gonzaga's defense headaches for the second time this season. The Tigers, who have averaged 65 points per game this season, made 41% of their shots from the field and went 21 of 23 from the free-throw line to score 76 points against Gonzaga after totaling 73 in a nine-point loss to the Bulldogs on Jan. 27.

Nick Blake led the Tigers with 20 points off the bench. Donovan Williams finished with 16. Those two were 13 of 13 from the free-throw line.

Gonzaga (20-6, 10-2) remains two games behind Saint Mary's for first place in the WCC standings and tied with San Francisco, though the Bulldogs have the tiebreaker against the Dons. Before a crucial three-game stretch against the three other teams at the top of the WCC standings, Gonzaga visits eighth-place Portland (9-18, 3-9) on Thursday .