Williams leads No. 19 Gonzaga past Loyola, 85-66

Williams leads No. 19 Gonzaga past Loyola, 85-66

Last season Gonzaga made it all the way to the NCAA championship game, led by a group now mostly departed.

But they have Johnathan Williams playing in the paint now, and he looked more than comfortable in a starring role Saturday night in No. 19 Gonzaga’s 85-66 victory over Loyola Marymount.

The 6-foot-9 Williams scored 30 points and grabbed 10 rebounds and the Bulldogs opened the second half with a decisive 17-0 run. Williams had a half-dozen dunks, all of the powerful variety.

“He can make those shots, he can make those drives,” Gonzaga coach Mark Few said. “He’s an excellent rebounder.

“He’s been wildly inconsistent. He’s had games with two and four points. I’m hoping we’re rounding him to where we can count on him for double-digit points and hopefully double-digit rebounds.”

The Bulldogs (14-3, 4-0 WCC) received 12 points from Zach Norvell Jr. and Josh Perkins, and another 11 from Rui Hachimura.

Gonzaga led by as many as 24 points in the second half. The Bulldogs dominated play in the paint, outscoring Loyola 48-26.

Steve Haney led Loyola (5-10, 0-4) with 22 points, but scored only four late in the second half. James Bateman added 13 for the Lions.

The Lions never could recover from their dismal start to the second half.

“We went through a dry spell where we were at 41 (points) forever,” Loyola coach Mike Dunlap said. “We got smashed in that first 4 minutes.”

Gonzaga built what appeared to be a comfortable 34-20 lead midway into the first half, getting strong inside play from Williams and Hachimura.

But the Lions started chipping away at the lead and then finished the half with a 7-0 flurry to trail 46-41.

Then came the 17-0 blitz and the game was quickly out of reach.

“They hit their 3s,” Dunlap said. “That got them off the schneid. One of our goals was to make them beat us with the 2s and that just dislodged everything.”

Gonzaga connected on 8 of 20 3-point attempts on the night.

Few said the defense started the second-half run.

“We started guarding Haney, that’s what we were supposed to do from the jump but we didn’t,” he said. “We built a lead up in the first half and then got a little casual on the offensive end.”


The Bulldogs only figure to climb in the polls after sweeping their two games in Los Angeles over the weekend against Loyola and Pepperdine.


Gonzaga: The Bulldogs have taken their expected 4-0 start to conference play after sweeping Pepperdine and Loyola this week.

Loyola: The Lions started the season 5-4 but have lost six consecutive games and are still looking for their first conference win.


Dunlap said he’s not surprised by Williams stepping up, though the forward said he still looks for more consistency.

“He’s a tough matchup for everybody in the league because he can also stretch you,” Dunlap said. “He’s an interesting guy. He can pound you on the boards and can hit a 3. He’s a pro and everybody knows it.”

Said Williams: “I just tried to come out aggressively and crash the boards and set a tone. I just want to be more consistent. LMU fought hard tonight, I just had the hot hand and my teammates found me.”


Gonzaga: Return to Spokane on Thursday to meet Portland.