LOS ANGELES -- College basketball’s top-ranked Gonzaga Bulldogs (25-0) defeated the Loyola Marymount Lions (11-13) 90-60 on Thursday night to remain the only undefeated team in division I. The difference was clear on the box score as Gonzaga made 30 more free throws than LMU.
It was the first time ever that the top ranked team in the nation played in Gersten Pavilion. The home crowd filled the gym known as Hank’s House with energy as they were hoping to see an upset.
After two easy buckets inside by Przemek Karnowski opened the game for Gonzaga and they jumped out to a 7-2 lead, the adrenaline filled Lions went on an 8-0 run. A Trevor Manuel layup and back-to-back threes by Brandon Brown and Steven Haney gave LMU a 10-7 lead at the first timeout.
“I think we gave up one three that was a little out of character for us, especially with our attention to detail in the scouting reports,” said Gonzaga Head Coach Mark Few. “We talked about that, and just had one turnover that we talked about. Just take care of the ball and settling in.”
As expected, Gonzaga wouldn't be down for long, as they immediately responded with a 9-0 run of their own out of the break to go up 16-10. They never looked back as they continued to attack the basket. That aggressiveness earned the top ranked team 21 free throw attempts in the first half.
“Our turnovers led to a lot of fouls in transition,” said LMU Head coach Mike Dunlap. “Turnovers led to easy baskets. The disparity in free throws was huge as far as what gave them that bump at halftime.”
The Bulldogs ended the first half on a 19-6 run and held a 50-28 lead at halftime. The visitors made 17 free throws and shot 58 percent from the field in the first stanza. Gonzaga’s French freshman Killian Tillie led the scoring at the half with 11 points while Bob Cousy Award Finalist Nigel Williams-Goss had 10 points and nine rebounds.
In the second half, the Bulldogs kept the Lions at bay with the margin never getting lower than 17 points. Gonzaga freshman big man Zach Collins, who finished with 11 points, flashed some nice footwork in the post and altered shots on the defensive end. Native Angelino Jordan Mathews also scored 11 points and was the vocal leader on the floor for the Bulldogs.
“Our Freshman are very good,” said Few. “It's crazy the youthful enthusiasm we draw off our freshman is almost as important as the calmness and steadiness we get from Nigel or Jordan.”
Goss-Williams finished with an efficient 19 points and added 11 rebounds; he shot 5-8 from the field and made nine of 10 from the charity stripe. Johnathan Williams was the second leading scorer for Gonzaga with 13 points, including seven makes from the free throw line.
Gonzaga attempted 44 free throws in the game compared to just eight for Loyola Marymount.
For the Lions, Haney scored 12 points and Brown had 11. After the game coach Dunlap pointed to Petr Herman’s efforts on the defensive end with five blocks as something his team can build on. LMU will look to right the ship versus Portland on Saturday.
Gonzaga will travel north to the Bay Area for a nationally televised prime time matchup against conference-rival Saint Mary’s College (22-2). The Gaels will be looking to avenge their 23-point loss to the Bulldogs on January 14.