SPOKANE — King’s High School alum Corey Kispert scored a career-high 28 points and No. 8 Gonzaga used a second-half surge to beat Alabama State 95-64 in the season opener for both teams on Tuesday.
Filip Petrusev added 15, Admon Gilder scored 12 and Ryan Woolridge had 11 for depleted Gonzaga, which is down to nine scholarship players. The Bulldogs have won 16 consecutive season openers dating to 2003.
Jacoby Ross scored 16 points and Brandon Battle had 10 for Alabama State in the first meeting between the teams.
Gonzaga led 9-8 early in the first when the Zags went on a 19-4 run to take a 28-12 lead. Kispert had 10 points during the run.
Alabama State sank three consecutive 3-pointers to get within 34-21.
Gonzaga led 42-30 at halftime behind 13 points from Kispert. Alabama State was hampered by 12 turnovers in the first half that led to 14 Gonzaga points. Gonzaga had just three turnovers in the first.
Consecutive 3-pointers by Ross allowed the Hornets to cut Gonzaga’s lead to 50-41 early in the second.
Gonzaga replied with 15 straight points, while holding Alabama State scoreless for nearly six minutes, to take a 65-41 lead and was not threatened again. Kispert had nine points in that run and finished 10 of 13 from the floor.
Kispert is the only returning starter from a team that won 33 games and reached the Elite Eight last season.
Forward Killian Tillie is still recovering from knee surgery and did not play, while freshman guard Brock Ravet, who was expected to contribute, has temporarily left the team for personal reasons.