SPOKANE, Wash. — Filip Petrusev had 24 points and nine rebounds to help No. 2 Gonzaga beat Eastern Washington 112-77 on Saturday, clearing a path for the Bulldogs to become the sixth top-ranked team in the nation so far this season.
No. 1 Kansas lost to No. 18 Villanova 56-55 earlier Saturday. That gave Gonzaga a chance at attaining the top spot on Monday. Gonzaga has reached No. 1 several times in recent years, including twice last season.
Admon Gilder scored 22 points and Ryan Woolridge added 15 points for Gonzaga (13-1), which has won five straight games since falling to Michigan in the title game of the Battle 4 Atlantis. The Zags have won 30 straight home games, the longest streak in the nation.
Jacob Davison scored 17 points and Tyler Kidd added 16 for Eastern Washington (7-4), which came in ranked first in the nation in scoring at 90.7 points per game. But the Eagles could not handle Gonzaga’s size.
This one was over early.
With the score tied at 6, Gonzaga went on an 23-3 run early in the first for a 29-9 lead.
The lead grew to 34-11, at which point taller Gonzaga had a 22-8 advantage on points in the paint.
Gonzaga led 64-33 at halftime, after holding Eastern Washington to 35.5% shooting and dominating the rebounding 30-13. Gonzaga shot 52% in the first and had five players in double figures by intermission.
Eastern Washington shot much better in the second half and had a 7-0 run to cut Gonzaga’s lead to 78-57 with just over 11 minutes left.
But the Zags managed to keep the lead above 20 points the rest of the way.
Eastern Washington: This is the first meeting between the programs since 2011, even though Eastern’s campus is just 15 miles away ... This is the highest-ranked team Eastern has ever faced, and it is 1-28 against ranked opponents ... Three Eastern players average at least 15 points ... the Eagles were picked to finish first in the Big Sky Conference.
Gonzaga: The Bulldogs have beaten No. 8 Oregon, No. 22 Washington, No. 16 Arizona and North Carolina in the past three weeks ... The Bulldogs rank third in the nation in scoring at 86.4 points per game ... Seven Bulldogs average at least 9.8 points per game.
Eastern Washington opens Big Sky play at Weber State next Saturday.
Gonzaga plays its final nonconference game Dec. 30, hosting Detroit Mercy. Then opens West Coast Conference play, after going 16-0 in the conference last season.