Balanced scoring lifts No. 11 Gonzaga over USC – Orange County Register

By W.G. RAMIREZ (Associated Press)

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Ryan Nembhard and Dusty Stromer each scored 15 points and No. 11 Gonzaga defeated USC 89-76 on Saturday night in the Las Vegas Invitational.

The Bulldogs led wire-to-wire to extend their win streak to four since dropping a 73-63 decision to No. 1 Purdue on Nov. 20 at the Maui Invitational.

Graham Ike and Ben Gregg each added 14 for the Bulldogs (6-1). Gregg, who also grabbed eight rebounds, came off the bench to score 12 of his points in the second half when Ike was whistled for his fourth foul. Reserve Braden Huff added 12 points while Nolan Hickman chipped in with 10.

“We know what we’re capable of, and we’re still kind of gelling together but we’re super talented in all aspects on the court,” Gregg said. “We got guys who just love to win, love to compete. That’s kind of the culture at Gonzaga. We love to win and that’s what we want to do and we’re going to try and do every game.”

USC’s Boogie Ellis led all scorers with 28 points and added seven rebounds. Freshman Isaiah Collier scored 14 for the Trojans (5-3).

Gonzaga built a double-digit lead early, opening the game on a 20-6 run by the 13:25 mark in the first half. The Trojans missed eight of their first nine shots and 13 of their first 20.

While USC had scoring droughts of four or more consecutive misses three different times during the first half, the Zags never missed more than three in a row.

Gonzaga shot 52% from the floor, hitting 34 of 65 from the floor, including a 55% clip (12 of 22) from 3-point range.

“I thought we competed really, really well,” Gonzaga coach Mark Few said. “That’s their identity. I think every night they’re stepping up and they’re competing, they’re hustling, they’re playing physical, they’re communicating. Most of all just competing.”

The Trojans started to find their rhythm late in the half, hitting 9 of 14 down the stretch to get within seven at halftime, 44-37.

USC finished a respectable 31 of 66 (47%) from the floor, but was just 6 of 22 (27%) from 3-point range. The Trojans were also a bleak 47% (8 of 17) from the free-throw line.

“We have to be better,” USC coach Andy Enfield said. “We’ve had a very challenging schedule early on here, we’ve had some injuries. Tonight we were healthy for the most part with the exception of Bronny (James) and Brandon (Gardner) … but the nice thing is our experience with veteran better players that have been here are healthy now. Frustrated with defensive effort as far as challenging shots.”

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