SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) — Josh Perkins said No. 20 Gonzaga did not panic when their shots did not fall in the first half against Pacific.
“We took the same looks and stayed confident,” Perkins said. “They started to fall in the second half.”
Did they ever.
Gonzaga outscored Pacific 50-27 in the second half and won the West Coast Conference opener for both teams 81-48 on Thursday night.
Rui Hachimura scored 19 points and Perkins added 16 as the Zags won their 22nd consecutive WCC opener.
Zach Norvell Jr. scored 13 points for Gonzaga (11-3, 1-0 West Coast), which has beaten Pacific 11 consecutive times.
“We played a great second half,” said Gonzaga coach Mark Few, who has never lost a conference opener in 19 seasons. “Our guys stuck with it. They played good defense.”
Jahlil Tripp scored nine points to lead Pacific (5-9, 0-1), which has lost five games in a row.
Pacific was undone by 33 percent shooting and lost the rebound battle 46-32 against the taller Zags.
“That’s why we spend so much time on it,” Few said of his defense. “It’s a big part of who we are.”
Corey Kispert, slowed by injury the past month, scored 12 points and grabbed six rebounds off the bench.
“I hope he keeps being aggressive,” said Perkins, who made four 3-pointers in the game and also dished out five assists.
Hachimura came off the bench to make 6 of 8 field goals and all seven of his free throws.
Pacific scored the first six points of the game, but Gonzaga replied with a 13-2 run to take the lead.
Perkins scored 11 points in the first 9 minutes as Gonzaga pushed the lead to 20-10.
Both teams had trouble shooting in the first half. Gonzaga fell into a 2-of-12 shooting slump, but the Tigers could not make up much ground and still trailed 24-15.
Gonzaga led 31-21 at halftime, after holding Pacific to 29 percent shooting and no 3-pointers. The Zags shot just 38 percent in the first.
The teams traded baskets early in the second half until the Zags went on a 17-4 run for a 61-39 lead. The Zags hit four consecutive 3-pointers, by Perkins, Norvell, Kispert and Killian Tillie, during the run.
The Tigers did not threaten again.
Gonzaga shot just 45 percent for the game.
“We did a good job of making them shoot tough shots,” said Pacific coach Damon Stoudamire, who is in his second season.
“We played good enough defense in the first 25 to 30 minutes,” he said. “But what happens is it’s hard to sustain against a team that good if you are missing point blank layups.
“You’ve got to make open shots to keep pressure on a team like Gonzaga,” Stoudamire said.
Few’s career record in WCC games is 244-29.
Gonzaga outscored Pacific 22-2 on second chance points and 36-20 in the paint.
Gonzaga’s subs outscored the Pacific bench 38-12.
Pacific: The Tigers were coming off a 39-point loss at No. 3 Arizona State. Pacific fell to 1-12 all-time versus Gonzaga
Gonzaga: Few, in his 19th season, has never lost a WCC opener, and the Zags have won 16 of the past 17 league championships. Gonzaga is coming off a narrow loss at San Diego State, where their high-powered offense was held to 70 points, 20 below their average. All five Gonzaga starters average in double figures.
Pacific hosts Loyola Marymount on Saturday
Gonzaga hosts Santa Clara on Saturday.
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