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No. 24 Gonzaga puts streaks on line vs. Pepperdine

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Gonzaga has uncustomarily dropped three of its past five games, but the schedule-maker has provided a gift.

The No. 24 Bulldogs will open West Coast Conference play against Pepperdine on Thursday night in Spokane, Wash. That’s timely because Gonzaga has beaten the Waves 45 consecutive times.

The most recent time Pepperdine defeated Gonzaga was 88-79 in Malibu, Calif., on Jan. 18, 2002.

Nearly 22 years later, Gonzaga (9-4) will attempt to rediscover its zest. The Bulldogs were outclassed by visiting San Diego State 84-74 on Friday and tumbled 11 spots in the Top 25 poll.

Gonzaga has made 142 straight appearances in the rankings since beginning the streak on Jan. 11, 2016.

The Bulldogs have lost games to both teams that played in last season’s NCAA Tournament title game — UConn and San Diego State — as well as Purdue and Washington.

Forward Anton Watson, who is second on the Bulldogs in both scoring (14.2 points per game) and rebounding (7.5), noted his team needs to step up its level among top-flight teams.

“We have to play our best basketball,” Watson said. “We have to take care of (the ball), control the game, rebound. We have to do everything right. We’re going to continue to work. We can’t hold our heads down just because we lost a couple of games. It’s a long season.”

The Bulldogs have won all 24 WCC openers during Mark Few’s coaching tenure and 27 straight overall.

Thursday’s contest will be the CCF Classic (standing for Community Cancer Fund) and will be played at the Spokane Arena instead of the on-campus McCarthey Athletic Center. The loss to San Diego State was just Gonzaga’s 17th at McCarthey in 20 seasons since it opened.

Few observed many problem areas while his club was being outplayed by the Aztecs.

“These guys have some great fight, some spirit and a lot of substance to them, but at this point we should be pretty well along on our way (to fixing) some of the mental errors were making,” Few said.

“We’re missing a coverage on a ball screen, and these teams are making us pay. Or we’re missing a switch and a guy is getting an open 3, or we’re just not getting off a screen and they’re turning the corner and laying it up.”

Pepperdine arrives with a two-game winning streak after defeating William & Mary and NAIA Westcliff. The Waves are 0-6 away from home this season.

Jevon Porter recorded 18 points and six rebounds in Friday’s 83-47 rout of Westcliff. The output came in his third game since returning from a knee injury.

“I’m starting to feel better about everything,” Porter said afterward. “(Friday) was the best I felt by far out there.”

Porter is averaging 10.3 points and 5.0 rebounds a game. He displayed promise last season when he averaged 12.1 points and 7.2 rebounds and made the All-WCC Freshman Team.

Right now, though, he is looking to help the Waves get on a roll in WCC play.

“Just trying to play my game, not do too much, not do too little,” Porter said. “Do what the team needs me to do. I’m just trying to play as hard as I can and let the rest take care of itself.”

–Field Level Media

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