Clarke, Hachimura lead No. 1 Gonzaga past Pacific 86-66
Zags win nation’s best 19th straight game
STOCKTON, Calif. (AP) — Brandon Clarke had 21 points, 13 rebounds and four blocks, and No. 1 Gonzaga extended the nation’s longest winning streak to 19 games, thumping Pacific 86-66 on Thursday night.
Rui Hachimura added 27 points and Zach Norvell Jr. scored 12 for the Bulldogs (28-2, 15-0 West Coast Conference).
Back atop the rankings for the first time since December, the Zags had little trouble against the Tigers and inched closer to a fifth unbeaten conference record in 20 seasons under coach Mark Few. The Bulldogs close out the WCC schedule Saturday at Saint Mary’s.
Gonzaga was held to a season-low 67 points by Pacific when the teams played earlier this season in Spokane. After a slow start this time, the Bulldogs pulled away by halftime and led by 26 while silencing a near-capacity crowd at Spanos Center.
Clarke led the way with his third straight double-double and did most of his scoring in the first half, while Hachimura fueled Gonzaga’s offense in the second half.
Coming off consecutive double-doubles in wins over Pepperdine and BYU, Clarke scored 10 points and didn’t miss a shot during a 25-6 run in the first half when the Bulldogs pulled away following a sluggish start.
Clarke, who had three blocks before halftime, had a steal near midcourt and fed Hachimura for a soaring one-handed dunk when Gonzaga pushed its lead to 20.
Hachimura made two more dunks in the second half, including one off an alley-oop lob from Geno Crandall that made it 61-37. That dunk kicked off a stretch where Hachimura scored 12 of 16 points for the Bulldogs.
Like it did when the teams played earlier this season in Spokane, Pacific (13-17, 3-12) slowed its offense and repeatedly ran the shot clock down to the final seconds in an attempt to limit Gonzaga’s possessions. But the Tigers shot 23.1 percent in the first half and couldn’t slow the Bulldogs in transition.
Roberto Gallinat scored 23 points for Pacific. Khy Kabellis added 13.
Gonzaga: The Bulldogs have won 30 consecutive WCC road games and 29 straight overall. Although Pacific was semi-effective in muddying up the game, Few’s squad kept coming on offense and was too much for the smaller and slower Tigers. Now it’s on to face Saint Mary’s, where the Zags will try to complete the conference sweep.
Pacific: Damon Stoudamire’s team did some good things, especially Gallinat. But Pacific eventually wore down and dropped its sixth straight. Pacific last hosted a No. 1-ranked team in 1987 when UNLV went to Stockton on Feb. 9 and won 73-59.
Gonzaga: Plays at Saint Mary’s on Saturday.
Pacific: Plays at Pepperdine on Saturday.