Basketball

Brandon Clarke leads No. 4 Gonzaga over Saint Mary's

AP

Saint Mary’s has been No. 4 Gonzaga’s toughest nemesis in the West Coast Conference in the past decade. The Gaels didn’t pose much of a challenge Saturday night.

Brandon Clarke scored 24 points and blocked three shots as Gonzaga routed Saint Mary’s 94-46 for its 14th consecutive victory.

“That’s a really good offensive team,” Gonzaga coach Mark Few said of the Gaels. “We contested all of their shots. We held them to one shot for the most part.”

Rui Hachmiura added 18 points and Filip Petrusev had 15 for Gonzaga (23-2, 10-0 West Coast), which is likely to move up in The AP poll after No. 3 Virginia lost to No. 2 Duke earlier Saturday. Zach Norvell Jr. added 12 points and Corey Kispert 10.

“That might be our best game, period,” Clarke said. “Our offense and defense were very good.”

The win closed a stretch where Gonzaga played the four teams just behind them in the standings — including BYU, San Diego and San Francisco — and pounded all four.

“We were playing the teams jostling around for second place,” Few said. “That’s a great stretch.”

Tommy Kuhse scored 12 points and Malik Fitts 11 for Saint Mary’s (15-10, 6-4), which has lost 14 of its past 17 games against Gonzaga.

Saint Mary’s Jordan Ford, the leading scorer in the WCC, was held to eight points, 13 below his average.

The Gaels shot just 25.9 percent as Gonzaga’s defense prevented them from getting clean looks. The Bulldogs shot 58 percent.

“I’d like to say we played hard, but I can’t,” Saint Mary’s coach Randy Bennett said. “They crushed us inside.”

Gonzaga had a 52-20 advantage on points in the paint and won the rebound battle 42-31. The Zags scored the first 11 points of the game and jumped to a 19-6 lead by making its first seven shots.

Gonzaga led 30-10 midway through the first.

Kispert and Norvell hit consecutive 3-pointers to ignite a 17-2 run that lifted Gonzaga to a 53-20 lead at halftime. Saint Mary’s was scoreless for the final 4:38 of the first half, missing six of seven shots.

The Gaels shot just 20 percent in the first (6 of 30), while Gonzaga was shooting 60.7 percent from the field and making 14 of 16 free throws.

Clarke scored 12 points early in the second half as Gonzaga pushed the lead beyond 40 points at 74-33.

The Gaels did not threaten after that.