After watching Gonzaga put up 98 points against Washington Wednesday night in the rivalry-reinstatement game, I got to thinking: Even with an extended interruption in the series, the Zags have made a habit of scoring on the Huskies.
I didn’t realize how pronounced that trend was
Going backwards to the 2004-05 game when Washington came to the brand-new Kennel 14th-ranked and fresh from a tournament championship in the Great Alaska Shootout, the Zags have scored 98, 80, 97, 95 and 99 points against Washington. That’s 93.8 points per in those five games.
That ain’t the half of it.
In the last seven games between the two -- dating back through the 2002-03 season -- Gonzaga has shot 50 percent or better in every one.
I find that stupefying.
Here’s the breakdown:
2016: 53.8 percent (Gonzaga wins, 98-71).
2015: 50 percent (Gonzaga, 80-64).
2006: 50.7 percent (Gonzaga, 97-77).
2005: 52.1 percent (Washington, 99-95).
2004: 58.9 percent (Gonzaga, 99-87).
2003: 61.1 percent (Gonzaga, 86-62).
2002: 55.6 percent (Gonzaga in OT, 95-89).
You have to go back to the 2001-02 season to find a Gonzaga team that didn’t shoot 50 percent against Washington. In other words, you have to go back to the last year of the Bob Bender era. The starting guards were Dan Dickau and Blake Stepp for Gonzaga, Curtis Allen and Erroll Knight for Washington.
In that game, Gonzaga shot 41.7 percent. And still won by 20 on the road.
What’s also striking, and surprising, about that stretch is how Washington, whose trademark has been offense-oriented basketball under Lorenzo Romar, hasn’t shot well against Gonzaga. In the last eight games between the two programs (including that last one with the Bender-coached Huskies), Washington has hit the 50-percent mark only once -- and four times has shot .311 or worse, including Wednesday night.
More random, capricious, throwaway observations on the latest proceedings in the Kennel:
-- Captain Obvious here: Washington is a team trying to find its way. That’s clear. But the Huskies did have the advantage of a few days’ extra prep time over Gonzaga, having had a full week between games (TCU to Gonzaga), while the Zags had to focus first on nemesis Arizona last Saturday. Plainly, that edge was worth nothing.
-- While Gonzaga coach Mark Few had to be pleased with the evening’s work, the game will do nothing to increase his appetite for the resumption of the series. Few made it clear to me in “Glory Hounds” that he’s lukewarm about playing Washington, saying, “It’s all about (RPI) top-25 and top-50 wins.” So his team just went out and proved his point for him.
-- Nigel Williams-Goss acquitted himself famously in what had to be a difficult spot -- playing against a coach who had known him since he was a young teenager, his former college coach, one whom he had criticized publicly (by association) upon transferring to GU. It wouldn’t have been a surprise to see him pressing and forcing upon himself a bad night. Instead: 23 points, 9-of-13 shooting, 5 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 turnovers.
-- Markelle Fultz is an effortless scorer, the real deal. But in all honesty, I don’t understand why he would have chosen to come 3,000 miles to a struggling program.
-- Fultz and Zach Collins’ summit meeting: It looked like a perfect block. It’s too bad when an official makes that call, simply on the basis that it looks like it couldn’t have happened without a foul.
-- I don’t ever remember seeing or hearing of a team (Washington) gathering 29 offensive rebounds. It’s other-worldly. But then, you don’t often hear of a team having zero assists at the half, either.