SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) – Colorado State graduated all five starters from a team that went 26-9 last season and advanced to the NCAA tournament.
That makes No. 15 Gonzaga’s 93-61 rout of the Rams on Monday night a little easier to understand.
“It’s a fresh team, a brand new team, and we’re at the learning stage of it,” Colorado State coach Larry Eustachy said. “We don’t have a returning guy that started.”
But Eustachy is expecting the situation to improve quickly.
“We can turn this thing around and we can do it this year,” he said. “We just ran into a really well-coached team.”
Gonzaga coach Mark Few offered an undisputable truth about basketball after the game.
“Life is pretty good when you make your shots,” Few said. “That makes everybody look good.”
Gonzaga shot 58 percent and made 14 3-pointers in beating the Rams.
Gary Bell Jr. scored all of his 24 points on 3-pointers to lead Gonzaga (2-0). His eight 3-pointers were one short of the school record.
“It was great to see him hunt shots,” Few said. “He rarely forces shots.”
Bell, a junior, made a 3-pointer for the first basket of the game, and hit a second a few minutes later.
“After my second or third one, I said ‘It feels good to me,'” Bell said. “‘I need a couple more.'”
Fellow guards Gerard Coleman added 16 points, while Kevin Pangos had 13 and David Stockton 10 for Gonzaga.
“We’re stacked with guards this year,” Bell said.
The game plan going in was to concentrate on 3-pointers because Colorado State is physical and figured to pack the key, Bell said.
“We need him to do that when he’s feeling it,” Few said.
Gonzaga won the rebound battle 39-33.
“To beat them on the glass is a good sign for us,” Few said.
Jon Octeus led Colorado State (1-1) with 27 points.
Colorado State fell behind early and shot too poorly to catch up.
“Obviously we were no match for Gonzaga,” Eustachy said. “When you don’t make buckets you don’t look good.”
Gonzaga, which opened its season with a 100-76 win over Bryant, made 14 3-pointers against the Rams, including Bell’s career-high eight.
Gonzaga opened the second half with a 16-0 run to push its lead to 63-26. Bell made three 3-pointers during the run.
Colorado State made just 18 of 56 shots (32 percent).
“Thank God it was only 40 minutes, instead of a 60-minute football game, Eustachy said.
“I’d like to play them again in a couple of months and I know we could do a much better showing of it,” he added. ‘
Gonzaga opened with three 3-pointers and built an early 13-6 lead. Pangos’ long 3-pointer pushed the lead to 18-8 with 11:50 left in the first half.
Colorado State made just four of its first 13 shots.
Consecutive 3-pointers by Bell, his third of the game, and Stockton capped a 10-0 run that put Gonzaga up 33-15 with 6:48 left.
A 7-2 run brought Colorado State within 35-22, but Gonzaga stormed back.
Coleman scored seven straight points at the end of the first half as Gonzaga took a 47-26 lead. Coleman, a transfer from Providence, had 12 points in the first half.
Gonzaga shot 65 percent in the first half, making 17 of 26 shots, including 7 of 12 from 3-point range. The Rams shot just 28.6 percent in the first half, connecting on 8 of 28 shots, including 1 of 8 3-point attempts. Octeus had 13 points in the first half.
Colorado State did not make its first field goal of the second half until nearly 6 minutes had elapsed, and they trailed 66-31 at that point.
Three straight 3-pointers by the Zags, two by Bell, pushed their lead to 79-38.
This was the opening game of the ESPN College Hoops Tip-Off Marathon.
This was the first time the programs played since 1996. Gonzaga leads the series 3-2.
Colorado State has not beaten a ranked opponent on the road since 1989.
– By NICHOLAS K. GERANIOS, Associated Press
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