VIDEO: Zags thump Santa Clara, 85-42
SPOKANE, Wash. -- Elias Harris scored 17 points and No. 3 Gonzaga crushed Santa Clara 85-42 on Wednesday night, the ninth win in a row for the Zags.
Kelly Olynyk added 15 points for Gonzaga (26-2, 13-0 West Coast), which is riding its best ranking in the poll ever.
Gonzaga needs one more victory to claim at least a share of the WCC regular-season title it lost last season. The Broncos are battling to finish in the top four to earn a bye into the quarterfinals of the WCC tournament next month.
Santa Clara averages 75 points per game, and had not scored less than 60 points in a game all season. They lost just 81-74 at home against Gonzaga.
But cold shooting did them in.
Santa Clara sank the first basket of the game, then watched Gonzaga score 15 straight points over the next 6 minutes to take control. Gonzaga led 22-5 after 11 minutes, with most of their baskets on layups. The Broncos made only two of their first 16 shots, firing mostly from long range.
Olynyk's steal and stuff ignited a 12-2 Gonzaga run that put the Bulldogs ahead 34-9.
Gonzaga led 44-15 at halftime after shooting 60 percent (18 of 30) and getting 15 points from Harris. Santa Clara made just 6 of 28 shots, 21 percent, and was outrebounded 25-10 in the half. It was easily the lowest scoring half of the season for the Broncos.
Santa Clara scored the first basket of the second half, and Gonzaga replied with a 14-2 run that pushed their lead to 58-19. The Bulldogs substituted heavily after that.
The Broncos shot just 30 percent in the game and were outrebounded 45-22. Gonzaga shot 56.9 percent for the game.
Santa Clara's poor offensive showing came despite the fact they are among only three teams in the nation that have four players who have scored at least 1,000 points in their careers: Kevin Foster, Evan Roquemore, Raymond Cowels and Marc Trasolini. Foster is the leading scorer in Santa Clara history.
Gonzaga has won 27 of the past 28 games against the Broncos.
After going 0-16 in WCC games last season, the Broncos are enjoying one of the biggest turnarounds in WCC history.
Gonzaga's only losses this season are to Illinois and at Butler. Their 26-2 start is the best since the 2003-04 team opened 28-2.
Gonzaga is 118-8 in the McCarthey Athletic Center since it opened in 2004.
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