SPOKANE — With an upcoming holiday tournament, senior Elias Harris made sure No. 19 Gonzaga didn’t overlook an overmatched opponent.
Harris had 16 points and a career-high 18 rebounds as the Bulldogs overwhelmed South Dakota 96-58 Sunday.
“I was just trying to get myself going, get the team going, so I was just crashing to boards,” said Harris, who had 10 rebounds.
“Just go out and have fun, come out with lots of energy, attack the boards and grab as many boards as I can. That was my mindset.”
Przemek Karnowski, a 7-foot-1 freshman from Poland, had a game-high 20 points off the bench for the Bulldogs (3-0), who head to the Old Spice Classic in Florida to face Clemson Thanksgiving.
Gary Bell Jr. also had 16 points with Sam Dower getting 12 points and nine rebounds and Kevin Pangos 10 points to go with six assists.
Gonzaga shot 55 percent, outscoring the Coyotes 62-16 in the paint and outrebounding them 58-24.
It was Harris who led the charge.
“Great effort from him,” teammate Guy Landry Edi said. “He understands he needs to do that all year long for us to be more successful. Before the game we talked about it. I knew he was going to come out and have a great, great effort.”
Freshmen Casey Kasperbauer and Tyler Flack scored 17 and 10 points, respectively, for the Coyotes (1-3), who were playing their fourth game in five nights. Senior Juevol Myles had 12 points.
“They’re really good, with great size,” South Dakota coach Dave Boots said. “Physically we just couldn’t push and shove with them. Even when we tried to double down on them it was tough to get to them, and they still stepped through us.”
South Dakota, with just one senior starter and one returning starter from last season’s 10-18 team, shot 34 percent and committing 20 turnovers.
Harris reached 10 rebounds by the time the Coyotes got to 10 points almost 8 minutes into the game.
After a sluggish start Gonzaga’s starters rotated back into the game just past the midway point of the first half and ripped off an 18-4 run as the lead reached 20. The burst included a tip-in by Harris, who had 12 points and 13 rebounds to spark the Bulldogs to a 46-30 lead.
“It started with Elias,” Gonzaga coach Mark Few said. “I thought he had a great approach tonight and he was trying to get every (rebound) that was out there. If we could have left him out there longer he easily could have had a 20-plus rebound night. It was good to see.”
Gonzaga dominated the opening minutes of the second half and quickly pushed the lead to 27.
“The difference with this game was that the shots came easy,” Few said. “There was a little bit of turning some down here and there and not taking the first shot available, which is hard. All the guys I put out there can score pretty easily and by and large we did a good job.
“We probably turned it over more than we needed to, but the guys did a nice job of pushing the pace and getting the shots we wanted.”
The Zags had 16 turnovers and only made 4 of 15 free throws but the bench outscored the Coyotes 38-9.
“We just need to go out every night and play as hard as we can, it doesn’t matter who we face,” Harris said. “That’s what we did tonight.”