SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) — Rui Hachimura scored 25 points and No. 7 Gonzaga beat Santa Clara 91-48 on Saturday night to open defense of its West Coast Conference regular-season title.
Brandon Clarke added 16 points for Gonzaga (14-2) in its 18th consecutive victory over Santa Clara since 2011. Josh Perkins had six points, five rebounds, five assists and four steals.
Keshawn Justice scored 14 points, Josip Vrankic had 11 and Tahj Eaddy 10 for Santa Clara (9-7, 1-1). The Broncos had won six in a row.
Gonzaga has won 23 straight WCC openers, with its last loss in 1996. The Bulldogs have won six straight WCC regular-season titles.
The Zags used a stout defense to run away with this game, holding Santa Clara to 33 percent shooting.
Hachimura scored 14 points to help Gonzaga jump to a 22-10 lead.
A 9-1 run put the Zags up 33-14.
Gonzaga led 50-27 at halftime behind 18 points by Hachimura and 13 by Clarke. The Zags shot 56 percent in the first while holding Santa Clara to 35 percent.
Hachimura converted a three-point play to ignite a 16-3 run that put the Zags up 70-34 midway through the second. The Broncos did not threaten after that.
Gonzaga forward Killian Tillie play his first minutes of the season after suffering an ankle injury in preseason practice. Gonzaga guard Geno Crandall also returned Saturday after missing a month with a fractured hand.
Santa Clara: The Broncos have lost 41 of their past 43 games against Gonzaga, and haven’t won in Spokane since 2007 … They own wins this season over Southern California and Washington State of the Pac-12 … The Broncos came in averaging 73.5 points per game.
Gonzaga: The Bulldogs have won five games in a row since suffering a pair of losses that knocked them from first in The AP Top 25 … The Zags lead the nation in field goal percentage at 53.3 percent and are second in scoring at 93.7 points per game … Gonzaga won its previous four games by a margin of 43.7 points. … Gonzaga improved to 200-15 in the McCarthey Athletic Center since it opened in 2004.
Santa Clara: Hosts Pepperdine on Thursday night.
Gonzaga: Hosts Pacific on Thursday night.
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