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Aug. 9, 2022

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Strawther leads No. 4 Gonzaga over North Alabama 93-63

Zags’ home winning streak reaches 59 games

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Gonzaga guard Julian Strawther (0) shoots while pressured by North Alabama forward Payton Youngblood (14) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Tuesday, Dec. 28, 2021, in Spokane, Wash.
Gonzaga guard Julian Strawther (0) shoots while pressured by North Alabama forward Payton Youngblood (14) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Tuesday, Dec. 28, 2021, in Spokane, Wash. (AP Photo/Young Kwak) Photo Gallery

SPOKANE — Julian Strawther scored 15 points, Rasir Bolton added 14 points and No. 4 Gonzaga beat North Alabama 93-63 on Tuesday to extend the nation’s longest home winning streak to 59 games.

Freshman Nolan Hickman scored 13 points, Drew Timme had 12 and Anton Watson had 10 points and 10 rebounds for Gonzaga (11-2), which wrapped up its nonconference schedule.

“Our offense was pretty efficient,” Gonzaga coach Mark Few said. “We can put eight or nine guys out there who are capable of double figures.”

C.J. Brim scored 15 points for North Alabama (7-6).

This one was over early on Tuesday, despite North Alabama trailing only 21-16 midway through the first half. But the Zags launched an 18-3 run, aided by five Lions turnovers, to take a 39-19 lead. The Lions went six minutes without a field goal at one point.

“Our defensive numbers were really good,” Few said of his team, which held the Lions to 32% shooting for the game.

Gonzaga led 47-25 at halftime. North Alabama shot 29% and had 11 turnovers in the first half.

The Bulldogs pulled away even further to open the second half with a 19-10 run and built a 66-35 lead. The Lions made one of their 15 field goal attempts for part of the half, and the Zags pushed the lead to 73-40.

“We took great care of the ball,” Few said of Gonzaga’s nine turnovers. “That team turns over people a lot.”

Watson, a junior from Spokane, picked up the first double-double of his career. He said after the game that he’s focused on “being a leader and getting better every game, every practice.”

North Alabama coach Tony Pujol was pleased that his team had just a 51-42 deficit in rebounds.

“They (Gonzaga) got too many second-chance baskets, but overall I was happy with how they competed,” Pujol said of his team. “It’s easier said than done to go up against Timme and the rest of the guys.”

TIMME TIME

In addition to 12 points, player of the year candidate Drew Timme grabbed seven rebounds, dished out three assists and blocked a shot. “Our bigs put a lot of pressure on you,” Few said.

STATS OF THE DAY

The Zags made only 30% of their 3-point shots and 58% of their free throws.

BIG PICTURE

North Alabama: This was the highest-ranked opponent the Lions have faced since joining Division I in the 2018-19 season. The Lions won two national titles at the Division II level. … The Lions lead the ASUN Conference in rebounding with 38.9 per game, and hung with a taller Gonzaga team.

Gonzaga: The Bulldogs had little trouble with the Lions … They have appeared on the Top 25 for 103 consecutive weeks, which leads the nation. … The Bulldogs are shooting 63% inside the arc, also tops in the nation.

UP NEXT

Gonzaga: The West Coast Conference opener at San Diego on Thursday was postponed because of COVID-19 in the Toreros’ program. Gonzaga is scheduled to play at Loyola Marymount on Saturday.

“We’ll gear up for Loyola,” Few said, noting the West Coast Conference might have as many as four teams in the NCAA tournament this year. “It’s going to be a fight.”

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