Ryan Nembhard scored a game-high 22 points Tuesday night to lead six Gonzaga players in double figures as the 11th-ranked Bulldogs topped Cal State Bakersfield 81-65 in a nonconference contest in Spokane, Wash.
Nolan Hickman added 13 for the Bulldogs (5-1), while Braden Huff came off the bench to chip in 12 points. Graham Ike contributed 11 points and six rebounds, and Dusty Stromer kicked in 10 points. Leading scorer Anton Watson was held to 11 points on 5-of-11 shooting but grabbed a game-high 13 rebounds.
Kaleb Higgins scored 21 points for the Roadrunners (3-4) and Modestas Kancleris added 12, but it wasn’t enough to help spring a major upset. Cal State Bakersfield committed just 10 turnovers but made only 40.3 percent of its field-goal attempts, including 6 of 19 (31.6 percent) from the 3-point arc.
Gonzaga led by as many as 22 points in the second half, but the Roadrunners didn’t let the game become a total blowout, making the final margin respectable with a late burst that cut the deficit to 14 points in the last minute.
The Zags sank 52.6 percent of their field-goal tries and led for all but 55 seconds. They earned a 38-26 advantage on the glass.
Stromer’s transition 3-pointer enabled Gonzaga to establish a 9-2 lead just over two minutes into the game, giving the Bulldogs a fast working margin. Hickman’s fastbreak layup produced the Zags’ first double-figure advantage at 20-9 with 14:06 left in the half.
Higgins answered with a driving layup and soon after added a 3-pointer that got Cal State Bakersfield within 26-20 at the 10:32 mark, but the Roadrunners promptly went scoreless for more than six minutes. Gonzaga maintained a double-figure lead for the final 26:40.
Cal State Bakersfield managed only two field goals in the final 10-plus minutes of the half. The Zags established a 44-29 lead entering halftime when Huff put back Stromer’s missed 3-pointer with two seconds remaining.
Gonzaga used its superior height to carve out a 21-11 rebounding advantage in the half.