SPOKANE - Finals are still six weeks away, but Gonzaga University's men's basketball team passed its first test in a 95-51 exhibition over Carroll College Friday night in front of a sellout crowd of 6,000 at the McCarthey Athletic Center.
"I thought we played pretty darn hard for extended periods almost the entire game. I had no issues whatsoever with the effort. I thought the effort was very good for the full 40 (minutes)," head coach Mark Few said as all 14 of the available players saw action. "We really didn't take a possession off in any way, and hopefully we can kind of build on that. We are a deep team so we have a cumulative effect on the glass and on deflections, defense and get down and run it a little bit."
Veterans Elias Harris and Rob Sacre led the way with 13 and 11 points, respectively, with Harris going 6-for-7 from the field and Sacre perfect in four shots from the field.
But a couple of freshmen made big first impressions. Kevin Pangos had 11 points although going just 4-for-12 from the field and 3-of-9 from 3-point range, but he also dished out four assists and had just one turnover in 18 minutes. Ryan Spangler, who a year ago at this time was playing football in the Oklahoma State 3A playoffs, showed his strength on the boards with a game-high 11 and also contributed 10 points and a couple of blocked shots in 20 minutes. He went 5-for-6 from the field.
"Some of the new guys played very well today and some of them didn't play as well as they have been playing. That can happen, but by in large, this team picks up on stuff pretty well. There's an adjustment at this level, especially now. This scrimmage tested us against the speed, athleticism and size of teams we have to compete against."
Eleven players saw double-digit minutes and 13 of the 14 scored. Kelly Olynyk was in street clothes while still recuperating from a mild concussion suffered 10 days ago in practice.
The Bulldogs hit four of their first five shots and seven of their first 10 while building a 19-8 lead. But the Zags couldn't shake the Saints, who trailed just 23-15 with 10 minutes to go in the first half. But Gonzaga pushed that 8-point lead to 17 at 38-21 in the next five minutes and the rout was on.
In addition to the effort of Spangler and Pangos off the bench, the Zags got a well-balanced effort from the reserves.
Mathis Keita and Mike Hart each went 3-for-3 from the field while scoring 7 and 6 points, respectively. Hart also chipped in three rebounds and a couple of blocked shots. Marquise Carter, last year's West Coast Conference Tournament MVP, scored 6 points on a 3-for-5 night in just 10 minutes, and freshman Kyle Dranginis scored 9 points, hitting 3-of-4 field goal attempts, brought down 6 rebounds and led the Zags with 6 assists.
Few said the chemistry on this team is among the best he's seen.
"We have great chemistry this year. I thought we had great effort. We mixed and matched some guys, gave some guys some time that needed the time. Some of the other guys that we already know they've proven what we can get from them didn't get as much time."
Gonzaga shot 62.1 percent in the opening half, going 18-for-29, while the Saints connected on just 37.5 percent on 12-of-32. The taller, more physical Bulldogs had a 21-15 edge in rebounds at the half and finished with a 52-25 advantage while out-rebounding Carroll 31-10 in the second half.
The next test for the Bulldogs will be for real when Eastern Washington University visits the McCarthey Athletic Center Nov. 11 to open the regular season in an 8 p.m. tipoff following the women's season opener against Hofstra University at 4 p.m.