Melson makes career-high seven three-pointers in win
SPOKANE, Wash. Silas Melson has struggled with his shooting at times this season, but not on Thursday night against Portland.
Melson scored a career-high 23 points, making seven 3-pointers, as No. 15 Gonzaga routed Portland 103-57 for their fifth consecutive win.
”He’s shot the ball up and down this year,” Gonzaga coach Mark Few said of Melson. ”The rim was looking pretty big for him tonight.
”I’m happy for him,” Few said.
Melson hit 7 of 12 from 3-point range and Gonzaga shot 52 percent from the field while holding Portland to 30 percent.
”We just got into a good rhythm,” Melson, a senior guard, said. ”A lot of our points came off easy shots. We were moving the ball and sharing the ball.”
Rui Hachimura added 20 points for Gonzaga (15-3, 5-0 West Coast), which has romped through the bottom of the West Coast Conference so far. Killian Tillie added 15.
”Rui is playing much better now,” Few said of the sophomore from Japan. ”He’s not making silly mistakes and defensively he is much improved.”
Marcus Shaver Jr. scored 16 points for Portland (6-12, 0-5), which is in the second year of a rebuilding effort under former NBA player Terry Porter. The Pilots have dropped five games in a row.
”We had a tough time keeping them off the offensive boards,” Porter said. The Zags had 18 offensive rebounds that they converted into 24 points. ”We struggled to string some baskets together.”
The Zags dominated inside, winning the rebound battle 50-32 and outscoring the Pilots 50-16 in the paint.
Gonzaga went on an early 13-2 run for a 16-6 lead. Consecutive 3-pointers by Corey Kispert and Josh Perkins pushed the lead to 24-10.
Gonzaga led 45-29 at halftime, behind 12 points from Hachimura.
Melson hit four 3-pointers in the opening 4 minutes of the second half as the Zags built a 61-37 lead. The Pilots did not threaten after that.
”He was on fire,” said Perkins, who finished with 13 points and seven assists.
Gonzaga is 100-66 all-time against Portland and has won nine straight against the Pilots.
Portland shot only 27.6 percent in the second half, while the Zags were shooting 59 percent. The Zags finished with 41 field goals in the game, to just 18 for Portland.
Portland: The youthful Pilots are led in scoring by Josh McSwiggan, who averages 13 points per game and is from Loughborough, England. He was held to eight points on Thursday.
Gonzaga: The Bulldogs won their first four league games by an average of 32.8 points, but have yet to play the teams with better records. Gonzaga has five players scoring in double figures and two more averaging better than eight points per game. Gonzaga ranks fifth in the nation with an average of 89.9 points per game. This is the sixth time they topped 100 points this season.
Portland hosts Pacific on Saturday in a game that pits Porter against Tigers’ coach Damon Stoudamire. Both coaches played for Portland of the NBA.
Gonzaga plays at San Francisco on Saturday. ”Now we shift into the upper part of the league,” Few said.