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Recap and highlights: No. 24 Gonzaga uses turnovers to rout visiting San Diego 101-74

Jan. 6—Gonzaga's first three possessions vs. San Diego's zone defense: Anton Watson dunk, Watson mid-range jumper in the lane and Dusty Stromer wide-open 3-pointer from the wing.

The 24th-ranked Zags' offense hit their stride early and reached full speed feasting on Torero turnovers in a 101-74 victory Saturday at the McCarthey Athletic Center.

GU (11-4, 2-0 West Coast Conference) drained 60% of its first-half shots while building a 55-35 lead. The Zags cruised to the finish line as Mark Few moved within one win of 700 in 25 seasons as Gonzaga's head coach.

Junior forward Ben Gregg checked into the game with 14:51 left in the opening half, snagged the first of his four first-half steals and dunked home two points just seven seconds later. He finished with a career-high 22 points.

Graham Ike had 15 of his 19 points in the first half. The junior center also grabbed eight rebounds while playing just 21 minutes. Nolan Hickman scored 15 of his 17 points in the first 20 minutes. Ryan Nembhard chipped in 18 points, nine assists — matching his season high — six rebounds and four steals.

Nembhard drew one of the louder ovations when he hit a 3-pointer with 3:09 remaining for the team's 10th triple and free tacos for fans.

USD (10-7, 0-2), playing without point guard Wayne McKinney III, the team's second-leading scorer who apparently was injured in Thursday's loss to Saint Mary's, committed 13 turnovers in the opening 20 minutes, leading to Gonzaga's 19-4 advantage in points off turnovers and a 15-2 edge in fastbreak points.

Gonzaga made 57% of its field-goal attempts and had 27 assists, one behind its season high set against Arkansas-Pine Bluff.

The Zags, who won their first two WCC games by a combined 53 points, visit Santa Clara next Thursday before road dates with Pepperdine and San Diego the following week.

Gonzaga notes: Bulldogs disrupt Toreros, pile up season-high 14 steals in blowout win

Ben Gregg's defensive contributions might have flown under the radar in a game in which the junior scored a career-high 22 points. — Read more

Difference makers: Ben Gregg delivers career-high 22 points in Gonzaga's 101-74 win over San Diego

Ben Gregg — Read more

First half

19:50 — GU 2, SD 0: Zags win the tip and Watson gets things going with an easy dunk.

15:27 — GU 14, SD 10: Ike makes back-to-back shots to give the Zags the lead at the first media timeout. GU opens 6 of 9 from the field with 3-pointers from Hickman and Stromer.

USD keeping pace, making 4 of their first 5 attempts. Jamerson leads the Toreros with five points.

Stromer's 3 gave the Zags three straight made field goals to open the game.

11:39 — GU 23, SD 13: Zags turn up the pressure, force four quick turnovers and capitalize with a 13-3 run at the U12 media timeout.

Hickman leads six GU scorers with eight points on 3 of 6 shooting. Nembhard has not attempted a shot, but has four assists.

8:53 — GU 32, SD 18: Huff denies USD's Turner and Nemhbard turns it into an easy layup. Zags with the advantage in fast break points (8-0), paint points (16-4) and points off turnover (10-2).

Seven scorers for GU led by Hickman with eight, while Gregg has added a spark off the bench with seven.

3:51 — GU 45, SD 29: Zags keeping their pace as someone on the SD bench is called for a technical foul at the U4 media timeout.

GU will a clear skill advantage over the Toreros, who have no answer for Ike in the post. The Zags forward is up to 15 points and five rebounds.

0:54 — GU 55, SD 31: GU calls a timeout as Nembhard is called for a foul after he is stripped.

All Zags in the first half, who are on a 10-0 run. Toreros up to 13 turnovers in the half. Ike and Hickman lead with 15 points apiece, while Gregg (nine) closes in on double figures.

Halftime

A dip in competition or a newfound energy? No matter, Gonzaga has shaken off the funk from its nonconference struggles and leads San Diego 55-35 at halftime, well on their way to a second-straight rout to open WCC play.

The Zags forced 13 turnovers and scored 19 points off of them to build their advantage.

Graham Ike has been a force inside with 15 points and five rebounds, while Nolan Hickman has got it done in the backcourt with 15 points and three 3-pointers. Ben Gregg was a key spark off the bench with nine points, four steals and a block.

Second half

15:43 — GU 61, SD 43: San Diego comes out with a 8-6 advantage in the second half with some sloppy play on both sides at the U16 media timeout. Turner has all eight points for the Toreros in the half and has 15 in the game.

11:53 — GU 70, SD 46: Zags getting their footing in the second half, building their lead again at the U12 media timeout. GU's advantage looking insurmountable.

Ike up to 19 points and eight rebounds. Hickman has 17 points and Gregg joins them in double figures with 11.

Should see plenty of reserves get in the game down the stretch if trend continues.

7:36 — GU 87, SD 59: Bulldogs really stuffing the stat sheet down the stretch.

Gregg checks out with a career high 20 points with four rebounds and four steals in 23 minutes.

Nembhard has 15 points with eight assists, six rebounds and four steals. He also is having one of his best shooting nights, 3 of 4 on 3s.

3:23 — GU 93, SD 70: Yeo called for a foul to signal the final media timeout. Zags closing in on their fourth 100-point game of the season.

Pregame

As the Pepperdine Waves washed out of Spokane, Gonzaga will have its mind set on keeping things rolling.

The No. 24 Bulldogs (10-4, 1-0 West Coast) had an easy time beating Pepperdine in their conference opener at the Spokane Arena and return to the Kennel tonight to host San Diego (10-6, 0-1) at 6 p.m. The game will be broadcast on KHQ and Root Sports.

The Zags struggled at the end of their nonconference schedule, but looked comfortable Thursday, as they usually do in WCC play.

The Toreros appear improved over last year's team that finished second-to-last in the conference. USD some close games in its nonconference, including a Dec. 9 victory over Arizona State (9-5, 3-0 Pac-12).

San Diego played Saint Mary's tough on Thursday, coming within two points early in the second half, before the Gaels pulled away for a 81-70 win.

Series history

Gonzaga holds a 79-21 all-time series lead over San Diego and has won 16 straight since 2014.

Team stats

Individual leaders

Game preview

Gonzaga hoping to build on momentum against improving San Diego

Plenty of college basketball teams retool their rosters these days by tapping into the bustling transfer portal. San Diego is doing it "old school" in coach Steve Lavin's second season. The Toreros are blending holdover players who have made noticeable improvement with an influx of eight freshmen and one Division II transfer. — Read more

Key matchup: San Diego guard Deuce Turner riding hot streak

Junior guard Deuce Turner torched the Gaels for 23 first-half points and a career-best 34. That's believed to be the highest scoring game by a WCC player this season, eclipsing Gonzaga's Anton Watson (32 vs. UCLA) and Portland's Vucasin Masik (32 vs. North Dakota). — Read more

More on the Zags

Gonzaga rewind: Bulldogs' stifling defense, Ryan Nembhard's 3-point shooting stand out in Pepperdine win

There's a good chance Gonzaga players, coaches and fans took note of other results around the West Coast Conference after the Bulldogs dispatched Pepperdine 86-60 on Thursday night at the Arena. — Read more

Gonzaga debuting throwback uniforms on Saturday against USD to honor 1998-99 Elite Eight team

Gonzaga's going old school with its uniform selection for Saturday's game against San Diego. — Read more

Graham Ike turns in third straight 20-point game to help Gonzaga cruise past Pepperdine 86-60

It was a 2-minute stretch during the first half that featured something the Zags have grown accustomed to seeing and something they haven't seen nearly enough of in the past six games. — Read more

Gonzaga, CCF express interest in annual contest at the Spokane Arena

Gonzaga has played in front of a packed house at the Spokane Arena each of the last two years and came away with a pair of double-digit victories, which leads to a natural question. Would Gonzaga have interest in a game annually at the Arena? — Read more