SPOKANE — Coach Mark Few of No. 2 Gonzaga has a thought on how to prevent so many No. 1 teams from losing this season.
While there is a good chance Gonzaga will rise to No. 1 after pounding Eastern Washington 112-77 on Saturday, Few is looking forward to a week-long break and then a return to action.
“I don’t think they should do polls until March,” Few said. “It’s an effort in futility.”
No. 1 Kansas lost to No. 18 Villanova 56-55 earlier Saturday. That gave Gonzaga a chance at attaining the top spot on Monday. Gonzaga has reached No. 1 several times in recent years, including twice last season.
“They just need to hit the next challenge coming down the road,” Few said.
At the same time, he is proud the Zags have only one loss given their stiff nonconference schedule.
“This is as good a run as we’ve been on,” Few said. “It’s been an amazing three weeks: tough game, tough game, tough game. We need a break.”
Filip Petrusev had 24 points and nine rebounds to help Gonzaga clear a path to the top of the rankings.
Admon Gilder scored 22 points and Ryan Woolridge added 15 points for Gonzaga (13-1), which has won five straight games since falling to Michigan in the title game of the Battle 4 Atlantis. The Zags have won 30 straight home games, the longest streak in the nation.
Jacob Davison scored 17 points and Tyler Kidd added 16 for Eastern Washington (7-4), which came in ranked first in the nation in scoring at 90.7 points per game. But the Eagles could not handle Gonzaga’s size.
This one was over early.
With the score tied at 6, Gonzaga went on an 23-3 run early in the first for a 29-9 lead.
The lead grew to 34-11, at which point taller Gonzaga had a 22-8 advantage on points in the paint.
Gonzaga led 64-33 at halftime, after holding Eastern Washington to 35.5 percent shooting and dominating the rebounding 30-13. Gonzaga shot 52 percent in the first and had five players in double figures by intermission.
“We weren’t ready from the start,” Eastern Washington coach Shantay Legans said. “Our game plan didn’t work tonight.”
Eastern Washington shot much better in the second half and had a 7-0 run to cut Gonzaga’s lead to 78-57 with just over 11 minutes left.
But the Zags managed to keep the lead above 20 points the rest of the way.
“In the second half our team did a great job of fighting,” Legans said.
The Eagles were outscored by 31 points in the first half, but by only four points in the second. “‘We just got beat up too early, too fast,” Eastern’s Mason Peatling said.
Gonzaga won the rebound battle 49-34.
FREE THROW FIGHT
Gonzaga made 30 of 40 free throws in the sloppy game. Eastern Washington made 13 of 22 from the line.
Eastern Washington: This is the first meeting between the programs since 2011, even though Eastern’s campus is just 15 miles away … This is the highest-ranked team Eastern has ever faced, and it is 1-28 against ranked opponents … Three Eastern players average at least 15 points … the Eagles were picked to finish first in the Big Sky Conference.
Gonzaga: The Bulldogs have beaten No. 8 Oregon, No. 22 Washington, No. 16 Arizona and North Carolina in the past three weeks … The Bulldogs rank third in the nation in scoring at 86.4 points per game … Seven Bulldogs average at least 9.8 points per game.
Eastern Washington opens Big Sky play at Weber State next Saturday.
Gonzaga plays its final nonconference game Dec. 30, hosting Detroit Mercy. Then opens West Coast Conference play, after going 16-0 in the conference last season.