PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Julian Strawther had a career-high 40 points, including eight 3-pointers, and No. 14 Gonzaga pulled away down the stretch for an 82-67 victory over Portland on Saturday.
Anton Watson added 17 points for Gonzaga (18-4, 7-1 West Coast Conference). It was the Bulldogs' 16th consecutive victory over the Pilots, including a 115-75 win on Jan. 14 in Spokane.
Strawther is the first player to reach 40 points for the Zags since Kyle Wiltjer had 45 against Pacific in 2016.
Portland (11-13, 3-5) was led by Moses Wood with 19 points. The Pilots were resilient, cutting the margin to 56-54 after Juan Sebastian Gorosito hit a pair of 3-pointers. But Strawther answered with a 3 to keep the Pilots at bay with 8:28 to go. Gorosito, a freshman, finished with a career-high 17 points.
Strawther's 3-pointer with 5:23 left gave the Zags a 69-59 lead as they pulled away. The Bulldogs led by as many as 16 down the stretch.
The Bulldogs were coming off a 99-90 victory last Saturday at Pacific led by Drew Timme, who had 38 points, including 24 in the second half. The rebound victory came after Gonzaga lost 68-67 to unranked Loyola Marymount, snapping a 75-game winning streak at home.
“I think we still have a bad taste in our mouth from LMU. So I think we kind of learned from that game that you can’t take any one lightly," said Gonzaga guard Malachi Smith. "(Portland) is on the road, it was in the middle of the day, you know, and we had a little week off. So I think we kind of came out like we hadn’t played in a while but the intensity was there."
The Pilots lost 79-60 to Loyola Marymount on Thursday.
Strawther's 3-pointer gave Gonzaga a 17-10 lead to start the game. But Moses Wood made a layup and a 3 to pull the Pilots within 24-21.
Strawther's 3 snapped a five-minute scoring drought for the Zags to make it 27-21. Portland fans were on their feet when Gorosito hit a 3 that closed the gap again, 29-27, with 3:53 left in the first half.
Portland never got closer and Gonzaga led 35-29 at halftime led by Strawther, who had 17 points, including five 3-pointers to match his career high set earlier this season.
Wood, the Pilots' leading scorer, pulled Portland within 39-37 with 16:55 left in the game.
Gonzaga sits just below No. 22 Saint Mary's atop the WCC standings. The two teams meet next Saturday.
“The beauty of it is that we still play the No. 1 team twice. So we control it at the end the day so that’s still a positive,” Smith said.
Gonzaga: Mark Few is 42-2 against Portland as coach of the Bulldogs. ... Gonzaga has won 55 of the team's last 58 WCC games. ... Timme continues to close in on Gonzaga's all-time career scoring record of 2,196 points set by Frank Burgess in 1961. Timme has 1,992.
Portland: The last Portland win in the series was an 82-73 victory at the Chiles Center on Jan. 9, 2014. ... It is the 173rd meeting between the two teams.
Gonzaga: Hosts Santa Clara on Thursday night.
Portland: Visits San Diego on Thursday night.
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