Spokane, Wash. — On a night Josh Perkins became the career assist leader at No. 2 Gonzaga, the Bulldogs clinched a seventh consecutive West Coast Conference regular season title and kept the door open to a possible No. 1 ranking next week.
Rui Hachimura scored 23 points, leading four Zags in double figures as the Bulldogs beat Pepperdine 92-64 on Thursday night.
“A conference title is one of the goals on our board at the start of the year,” coach Mark Few said. “It’s a heck of an accomplishment.”
“Everybody has their eyes on bigger prizes,” Few added, including a deep run in the NCAA Tournament.
Perkins scored 10 points and dished out nine assists, giving him 670 assists in his career. That beat the record of 668 assists set by Matt Santangelo, the point guard on Gonzaga’s Elite Eight team that captured the attention of the nation in 1999.
“It’s a great accomplishment when you think of the phenomenal guards that have been through this place, going back to the greatest guard who ever played,” Few said in a reference to Gonzaga legend John Stockton, the NBA career leader in assists.
“Perk has great vision and makes great reads of ball screens,” Few said. “He delivers the ball to the right spot.”
Perkins called it a team accomplishment.
“It’s big-time,” he said. “It’s something you can’t take away. All the credit goes to my team.”
Zach Norvell Jr. added 21 points and Brandon Clarke had 16 points, 11 rebounds and five blocks for Gonzaga (26-2, 13-0 WCC), which won its 17th consecutive game, longest streak in the nation.
Darnell Dunn scored 16 and Jade Smith had 13 for Pepperdine (12-16, 5-9), which lost to the Zags for the 36th consecutive time dating to 2002. Colbey Ross had 12 points and eight assists.
“At times we did a decent job defensively,” Pepperdine coach Lorenzo Romar said. “And other times we weren’t guarding well at all.”
“They are an incredible basketball team,” Romar said of the Zags.
Gonzaga shot 63 percent while holding Pepperdine to 38 percent to coast to victory. The Zags jumped out to a 21-11 lead midway through the first, using a pressure defense to disrupt the Waves.
Hachmiura sank consecutive baskets as Gonzaga built a 28-15 lead. Norvell scored 10 consecutive Gonzaga points as the Bulldogs took a 41-26 lead.
Hachmiura’s 3-pointer at the buzzer lifted Gonzaga to a 53-33 lead at halftime. He had 21 points in the first, Norvell had 17, and Gonzaga shot 65.6 percent.
Gonzaga opened the second half with a 15-2 run to go up 68-35.
Pepperdine went on a 21-3 run to cut Gonzaga’s lead to 71-56.
“We did what we could to claw back,” Romar said.
But the Zags replied with a 12-2 run to push the lead back to 25 at 83-58 with five minutes left.
Ohio State 77, (at) Michigan State 70: The visiting Buckeyes scored 27 points in the fourth quarter in a tight game to give the Spartans (17-9, 7-8 Big Ten) their first home loss of the season. Nia Clouden led the Spartans with 23 points, and Shay Colley added 18 points. Victoria Gaines had 11 rebounds. Janai Crooms led Ohio State (13-12, 9-7) scorers with 20.
(At) Michigan 86, Rutgers 76: The Wolverines held the edge in every quarter to run its record to 19-9 (10-6). Naz Hillmon led the way with 21 points and seven rebounds. Nicole Munger had 17 points and Hallie Thome 16 points and eight rebounds. Charise Wilson’s 14 points led Rutgers (18-8, 10-5).
(At) Saginaw Valley 69, Wayne State 64: A fourth quarter rally fell short Thursday as the Warriors (13-13, 8-10 GLIAC) fell on the road. Nastassja Chambers led Wayne State scorers with 14, with Kate Sherwood adding 11. Saginaw Valley (6-19, 6-12 GLIAC) got 15 points each from Maddie Barrie and Hannah Settingsgaard.
(At) Milwaukee 59, Detroit Mercy 34: The Titans (4-22, 2-13 HL) ended the first quarter down 18-0 en route to losing their second straight game. Jiera Shears’ seven points led Detroit Mercy. Megan Walstad and Akaylah Hayes each had 12 points for Milwaukee (13-13, 8-7).
(At) Green Bay 72, Oakland 32: The Grizzlies (6-20, 3-12 HL) fell behind 20-4 in the opening quarter in the road loss. Kahlaijah Dean’s 10 points led Oakland. Carly Mohns’ 14 points led Green Bay (17-8, 12-3).
(At) Saginaw Valley 72, Wayne State 59: A 19-point deficit at the half proved too much for the Warriors (7-16, 6-12 GLIAC) to overcome. Latin Davis led the visitors with 21 points. Darnell Hoskins Jr.’s 24 points led Saginaw Valley (9-17, 5-13 GLIAC).
Oakland, Detroit Mercy face off
Oakland goes for the season sweep over Detroit (10-17, 7-8 HL) after winning the previous matchup in Detroit. The teams, which meet at 3 p.m. Saturday at Oakland’s Orena, last played each other on Jan. 19, when the Golden Grizzlies shot 50.9 percent from the field while limiting Detroit to just 42 percent en route to a 79-73 victory.
Both teams have relied heavily on their seniors this year. Xavier Hill-Mais, Jaevin Cumberland and Brad Brechting have collectively accounted for 59 percent of Oakland’s scoring this season and 64 percent of the team’s points over its last five games. For Detroit, Josh McFolley, Derrien King and Gerald Blackshear Jr. have collectively scored 35 percent of the team’s points this season.
Mercy’s Antoine Davis has connected on 39.1 percent of the 302 3-pointers he’s attempted and has made 20 of 61 over the last five games.
He is four away from tying Stephen Curry’s NCAA freshman record of 122. He’s also made 85.6 percent of his foul shots this season.
Eastern Michigan (12-14, 6-7 MAC) goes for the season sweep over Western Michigan Saturday at 2 p.m. in home in Ypsilanti after winning the previous matchup in Kalamazoo. The teams last played on Jan. 26, when the Eagles outshot Western Michigan (8-18, 2-11) 47.9 percent to 41.7 percent and hit six more 3-pointers en route to the 26-point victory.
Eastern Michigan’s offensive rebound percentage of 36.5 percent ranks first in the MAC. The Eagles have averaged 12.7 offensive boards a game.
Detroit News staff contributed.