LOS ANGELES — After a pair of close calls last week, Gonzaga coach Mark Few felt it was the right time to once again stress what is associated with being the top-ranked team in the country.
His young Bulldogs definitely received the message.
Gonzaga rolled to its second straight easy victory Saturday, defeating Loyola Marymount 87-62. The win comes on the heels of a 41-point rout of San Diego two days earlier.
It definitely didn’t look like the same team that trailed at halftime against Portland and had to hold off Pepperdine during the opening week of West Coast Conference play.
“I’ve been on them that there’s accountability and honor that comes with the ranking. You have to come out and own it,” Few said. “You should prepare and play as confident as anyone. By and large that is what we wanted to do.”
Gonzaga (18-1, 4-0) had five players in double figures. Filip Petrusev led the way with 16 points, Corey Kispert added 15 and Ryan Woolridge 13.
Admon Gilder had 12, and freshman Drew Timme recorded his first double-double (10 points, 11 rebounds) as the Bulldogs won their 10th straight overall and 22nd consecutive against the Lions.
There were two areas of improvement that Few was particularly pleased about: they turned it over only nine times and held Loyola Marymount to 38.6% shooting from the floor (22 of 57).
Eli Scott paced Loyola Marymount (7-10, 1-2) with 20 points, and Ivan Alpiev scored 11.
“I thought we did a good job once we got them into half court, but they did a great job in transition off our misses and turnovers,” LMU coach Mike Dunlap said.
Gonzaga missed six of its first nine from the floor before making five of its next six as part of 11-2 run and 17-6 lead midway through the first half. Loyola Marymount responded with six straight points before the Bulldogs scored 10 of the next 11 to put the margin in double digits the rest of the game.
The Bulldogs led 38-22 at halftime and were up by 30 late in the second half.
It was the Bulldogs’ 31st straight regular-season win in West Coast Conference play, tying them with the San Francisco squads led by Bill Russell and K.C. Jones for the second-longest streak in conference history. Pepperdine has the record at 32.
While many of the players associated with that streak — guys like Rui Hachimura and Brandon Clarke — have moved on to the NBA, Few is gaining a special affinity for his current group.
“I had no idea about that streak because we lost so much experience,” Few said. “These guys seems to understand preparing and plying the right way. I’m not sure people realized how much we lost. They deserve a lot of credit.”
Gonzaga: The Bulldogs should again be atop the rankings when the AP Top 25 is released Monday. It would be the first time in nearly a year that a team has remained No. 1 for four straight weeks. Tennessee was the last team to do it (Jan. 21 through Feb. 11).
Loyola Marymount: The Lions came into the game tied for 29th nationally in field goal shooting (47.9%) but have struggled over the past two games. They were 16 of 47 against BYU last Saturday and 22 of 57 against Gonzaga. LMU was plagued by poor 3-point shooting against the Bulldogs, making 7 of 26 from beyond the arc.
Gonzaga hosts Santa Clara on Thursday night.