SPOKANE — Kyle Dranginis was already having his best game with nine points in the first half. Teammate Gary Bell Jr. kept urging him to keep scoring.
The Gonzaga freshman, who redshirted last year, took his roommate and best friend’s advice and and had 21 of his 30 season-high 30 points in the second half as the 12th-ranked Bulldogs coasted to a 104-57 victory over Lewis-Clark State College on Thursday night.
“It’s just great to get back on the floor,” said Dranginis, a 6-foot-4 guard from Nampa, Idaho. “After that redshirt season I kind of lost that feeling of playing in regular games with fans there. It’s a great feeling. It was a fun time for sure.”
Dranginis, who also had seven assists and six rebounds, was 12 for 16 from the field as Gonzaga (7-0) shot 64 percent (43-for-67). The Bulldogs were 11 for 20 on 3-pointers, led by Dranginis’ 4-for-7 effort.
“He’s capable of that,” Gonzaga coach Mark Few said. “We’ve been kind of pushing and prodding him to get to that, to view himself as a player that can do that instead of a backup. Kyle can do that, it wasn’t like an out of body experience.”
Przemek Karnowski scored 16 points, Sam Dower and David Stockton had 13 each and Kelly Olynyk added 11 points and 10 rebounds for his first career double-double for Gonzaga (7-0). Drew Barham, a junior transfer from Memphis, had 11 points for his first double-figure game with the Bulldogs.
P.J. Bolte scored 10 points to lead Lewis-Clark State, an NAIA school from Lewiston, Idaho. The Warriors officially remained unbeaten at 9-0, though they have lost to the Bulldogs and Montana in exhibition games.
Gonzaga rolled despite sitting starters Elias Harris and Bell. Harris, a senior All-American candidate, was the MVP of the recent Old Spice Classic in Florida and leads Gonzaga in scoring (15.7) and rebounding (9.2).
“I just wanted to rest them,” Few said. “Gary’s beat up, walking around like he’s 50-years old. I knew if I sat Elias it would force me to play Przemek more minutes. Kelly needs more minutes still. I thought it was time to get Kyle more minutes. If we could get GB and E some rest the other guys could pick us up. Mission accomplished.”
The Bulldogs shot 70 percent in the first half but didn’t put together any real dominating runs en route to a 50-32 lead. The largest spurt was 10-0 late in the half, helping build a 20-point lead.
Freshman Trey Sobatta scored nine points by shooting 3 for 4 on 3-pointers for the Warriors, who shot a respectable 46 percent against a team that is 14th in the country by allowing opponents to make just 34.9 percent.
“I thought our effort was pretty good for the most part,” Few said. “I didn’t like how we defended in the first half. We came out the first 10 minutes in the second half and got back to defending the way we needed to defend, rebounding the way we need to rebound.
“All in all, especially in the second half, our guys got done what we needed to accomplish.”
Gonzaga, with a tremendous size advantage, had 60 points in the paint, including 38 in the first half. Dower, Karnowski and Barham finished a combined 18-for-22 from the field. The Bulldogs also dominated the boards 44-20.
Bolte, who leads the Warriors at 19.3 points a game as a reserve, was held to one basket and Jacob Champoux, who averages 13.8, only got off three shots, making a 3-pointer. He finished with five points. LC State finished at 37 percent shooting.
Gonzaga forced 20 turnovers and had a 46-20 rebounding advantage.