SPOKANE — None of the best Gonzaga teams of the past dozen years — which featured the likes of Dan Dickau, Adam Morrison and Ronny Turiaf — opened the season by winning their first eight games.
But this one has.
Sam Dower scored 18 points and No. 12 Gonzaga beat Pacific 85-67 on Saturday to tie the team record for most wins to open a season.
Elias Harris added 17 points for Gonzaga (8-0), which tied the 1994-95 squad. Gonzaga’s next game is Wednesday at Washington State.
“We’ve been very good so far,” coach Mark Few said. “But we don’t know how good a teams we’ve played.”
That will become apparent as the season wears on, Few said.
What is certain is that Gonzaga’s schedule is toughening up. They’ll play their first true road game on Wednesday at Washington State. Then they host No. 22 Illinois on Saturday.
“This is going to be a difficult week,” Few said. “Washington State is always difficult for us. And I’ve seen enough of Illinois to know they are good.”
Travis Fulton led Pacific (3-4) with 15 points. Lorenzo McCloud had 14.
Kelly Olynyk added 15 points and Kevin Pangos 12 for Gonzaga.
Few won his 350th game and has a 350-90 career record, all with the Bulldogs.
Pacific made eight of its first 14 shots to jump to an 18-10 lead. Gonzaga replied with an 11-2 run, taking a 21-20 lead on Olynyk’s dunk.
Then Gonzaga went on a 10-0 run to build a 39-27 lead with 4:20 left in the half. The run included two free throws by Pangos after the Pacific team was called for a technical.
Gonzaga led 49-34 at halftime, behind 14 points from Dower, who made all five of his field goal attempts, and 11 from Olynyk.
“We missed too many easy shots,” said Pacific coach Bob Thomason. “We didn’t scrap on the boards.”
Pacific has no answer for Gonzaga’s huge front line, which accounted for 64 points.
“They were efficient and tough and finished plays,” Few said. “We have great depth and great balance.”
“We will not play a team bigger than that the rest of the year,” Thomason said.
Few was pleased that his team sank 23 of 28 free throws.
“The only way to stop our posts is to foul them,” Few said.
Gonzaga extended its lead in the second half, and it reached 22 points, 67-45, on Gary Bell Jr.’s 3-pointer with 10 minutes left.
Pacific clawed back behind a couple of 3-pointers by Rodrigo De Souza, which cut Gonzaga’s lead to 72-59 with 5:40 left.
But the Bulldogs pulled away at the free throw line, and Harris’ dunk gave them an 81-61 lead with less than 3 minutes left.
This is the first meeting between the schools since 1976. Pacific is joining the West Coast Conference next season.
Thomason has announced he is retiring after this season.
Gonzaga is 110-7 in the McCarthey Athletic Center since it opened in the 2004-05 season.