MEN’S BASKETBALL FALLS IN SEASON OPENER AT #13 GONZAGA

MEN’S BASKETBALL FALLS IN SEASON OPENER AT #13 GONZAGA

SPOKANE, Wash. -- Five Bulldogs scored in double figures and 13th-ranked Gonzaga used an early 14-0 run to break things open and cruise to a 104-58 victory over Sacramento State in a non-conference men's basketball game Friday evening at the McCarthey Athletic Center.

The game was the season opener for both teams and marked the fifth time that the Hornets and Bulldogs have faced each other, and first since a Bulldog win on Jan. 8, 1995. Gonzaga now leads the all-time series, 3-2. Sacramento State, which had a three-game winning streak in season openers snapped, dropped to 0-14 against ranked opposition since joining the Div. I ranks in 1991-92.

Gonzaga improved to 136-8 at home since the McCarthey Athletic Center opened for the 2004-05 season.

In a night where Sacramento State head coach Brian Katz did not play senior guard Mikh McKinney for disciplinary reasons, the Hornets used 12 players, and 10 of those players cracked into the scoring column. McKinney was a unanimous first team all-Big Sky Conference and second team all-district selection last season.

After the Hornets' Nick Hornsby buried a jumper to give the team a 7-6 lead, Gonzaga went on a 14-0 run to take a 20-7 lead with 12:48 remaining in the first half. Four different Bulldogs scored during the run, including four points each from Byron Wesley and Domantas Sabonis. From there, it was all Gonzaga as Sacramento State trailed by double figures the final 33:32 of the contest.

The Bulldogs eventually opened up a 60-26 halftime advantage, and led by as many as 49 points in the second half before settling for the 46-point victory. Gonzaga outscored the Hornets in second chance points (23-3), points off turnovers (32-13) and points in the paint (40-24). In addition, the Bulldogs shot .545 (36-66) from the field, .417 (10-24) from the 3-point line and .688 (22-32) from the free throw line while holding a commanding advantage in the rebounding department (47-28). The Bulldogs turned 15 offensive rebounds into 23 second-chance points.

Meanwhile, the Hornets got into foul trouble early and often as the team was whistled for 29 fouls, including 16 in the second half. In fact, Gonzaga was already in the bonus at the 13:32 mark of the first half and the 9:10 mark of the second half. Three Hornet starters fouled out, and Katz played four of his five freshmen. Sacramento State shot .357 (20-56) from the field, .333 (5-15) from the 3-point line and .650 (13-20) from the free throw line. After averaging just 11.3 turnovers per game last season, the Hornets were forced into 22 miscues tonight.

Team co-captain and senior guard Dylan Garrity scored a team-high 13 points on 4-of-8 shooting and 2-of-5 from distance. He also had two steals in 29 minutes. Junior Cody Demps finished with 10 points, five rebounds, two assists and a pair of steals in a team-high 31 minutes and center Eric Stuteville had seven points in 28 minutes before fouling out. Hornsby (four points in 18 minutes) and Alex Tiffin (six rebounds in 21 minutes) also fouled out. Katz went big, starting the 6-foot-9 Tiffin in place of McKinney, which created a front court of Tiffin and the 6-foot-11 Stuteville.

True freshman combo guard Marcus Graves had eight points (including a pair of 3-pointers) and two steals in 16 minutes, and sophomore Trevis Jackson had five points and a steal in seven minutes. Along with Graves, true freshmen Justin Strings (three points) and Jiday Ugbaja (three points) also scored their first collegiate points.

Gonzaga received double-figure point production from Kyle Wiltjer (18 points, three 3-pointers), Kevin Pangos (16 points), Sabonis (14 points, game-high eight rebounds), Wesley (12 points, seven rebounds, four steals) and Gary Bell Jr. (11 points, six rebounds, five assists). The Bulldogs' bench outscored the Hornets' bench by a 40-23 margin. Nine different Bulldogs had at least one steal as Gonzaga finished with 12 total steals.

Tonight not only marked the season opener, but was the first game in a stretch that will see the Hornets play three times over a six-day span, including Monday night at UC Riverside and the home opener on Wednesday against Simpson.