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Holmgren, Watson lead No. 4 Gonzaga past Northern Arizona

Dec 20, 2021, 9:44 PM

SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) — Chet Holmgren had 20 points and nine rebounds, Anton Watson scored 17 and No. 4 Gonzaga beat Northern Arizona 95-49 on Monday night to extend the nation’s longest home winning streak to 58 games.

Gonzaga 95, Northern Arizona 49: Box score

Drew Timme added 14 points for Gonzaga (10-2), which was coming off a victory over No. 25 Texas Tech in Phoenix last weekend. The Bulldogs opened the season as the nation’s top-ranked team.

Jalen Cone scored 19 points for Northern Arizona (4-8), which has lost six of seven. The Lumberjacks have never beaten a ranked opponent and were undone in this one by 32% shooting and 20 turnovers.

Gonzaga shot 55% and committed only five turnovers.

“It comes down to guys making the right basketball decisions,” Gonzaga coach Mark Few said. “To go through a high-possession game like this with five is really, really good.”

Holmgren, a freshman considered the nation’s top recruit this year, sank all three of his 3-point attempts in the first five minutes as Gonzaga took a 16-9 lead.

Cone completed a four-point play to pull the Lumberjacks to 16-15.

But the Zags replied with a 15-5 spurt to build a 31-20 lead. Gonzaga added a 15-2 run late in the first half to carry a 48-30 advantage into halftime.

Holmgren had 14 points before the break, while Timme and Watson scored 10 each.

Cone, a transfer from Virginia Tech, led all scorers in the first half with 17 points, including four 3-pointers. But he was shut down in the second half.

“We stayed on his body a little bit better,” Few said.

“Basically, we took away his 3,” Gonzaga guard Hunter Sallis said. “We made it so he didn’t have many shots.”

The Zags made their first four attempts after halftime to open a 59-32 bulge.

Sallis hit a 3 and a pair of free throws during a 12-0 run that put the Bulldogs up 77-44 with less than 10 minutes left. The Lumberjacks did not challenge again.

“It’s tough to keep up with them offensively when they get easy transition points and are making their 3s,” Northern Arizona coach Shane Burcar said.

“Give Gonzaga credit on the defense side of the ball as they’re long and contest every shot well, and athletic, and always play hard on defense.”

CHET’S LINE

The 7-foot Holmgren shot 6 of 9 and had three blocks. He’s been West Coast Conference freshman of the week four times already this season.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

Gonzaga will remain in the Top 25 for a 103rd consecutive week next Monday, the longest streak in the nation by far. Villanova is second at 46.

GOOD SHOOTING

Gonzaga went 10 of 22 from 3-point range and sank 19 of 23 free throws. Northern Arizona was 5 of 22 on 3s and 2 for 3 at the foul line.

THE SKY IS FALLING

Few is 43-1 against Big Sky Conference foes in his two decades as Gonzaga coach.

BIG PICTURE

Northern Arizona: The Lumberjacks were seeking their first win over the Zags since 1979, and first-ever road win at Gonzaga after 13 losses. … Cone leads the Lumberjacks with an average of 17.6 points per game.

Gonzaga: The Bulldogs have played five ranked teams, most in Division I, and gone 3-2 against them. The Lumberjacks didn’t offer that kind of challenge. “They exposed our weaknesses,” Watson said of playing ranked teams. “We can learn from those games.”

UP NEXT

Northern Arizona hosts Idaho on Dec. 30.

Gonzaga hosts North Alabama on Dec. 28 in its final non-conference game before opening West Coast Conference play. Few said it’s a nice luxury to give players a week off to go home for Christmas.

“I’m a huge Christmas guy,” said Few, the son of a minister. “It has a special place in our life.”

Saturday: Gonzaga hits 13 3-pointers, beats No. 25 Texas Tech 69-55

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