SPOKANE, Wash. (AP)Player of the year candidate Drew Timme scored 22 points, Julian Strawther added 16, and No. 2 Gonzaga used a big first half run to beat North Florida 104-63 in the season opener Monday.
Anton Watson had 10 points, four rebounds, four assists and five steals for Gonzaga (1-0), which won its 68th consecutive home game, the nation’s longest streak. The Bulldogs, who have led the nation in scoring for four consecutive seasons, had six players in double figures.
Carter Hendricksen scored 16 points, Jadyn Parker 13 and Jose Placer 12 for North Florida (0-1), a veteran-laden team from the Atlantic Sun Conference that returned its top four scorers from last season.
The Ospreys took a quick 10-8 lead. Gonzaga replied with a 26-0 run, helped by eight North Florida turnovers, to build a 34-10 lead. North Florida went 0-12 from the field during a drought that lasted more than eight minutes.
Malachi Smith had seven points during the Gonzaga run and finished with 15.
The Bulldogs closed the first half with an 11-2 run, holding North Florida without a field goal for the final 4:30, to take a 53-23 halftime lead.
Gonzaga shot 65% in the first half, led by Timme’s 16 points, while the Osprey shot just 28%. North Florida committed 13 turnovers in the first, which Gonzaga converted into 20 points.
Rasir Bolton hit a pair of 3-pointers as Gonzaga pushed its lead to 71-34 with 15 minutes left in the game. The Osprey did not threaten again.
Gonzaga shot 63% in the game, compared to 36% for North Florida.
North Florida: The Ospreys were picked to finish fifth in the A-SUN coaches’ poll. They finished 11-20 last season, 7-9 in the league. The Ospreys also face No. 3 Houston and No. 4 Kentucky this year.
Gonzaga: The Zags largely succeeded in avoiding the rough second half performances that showed up in exhibition games against Tennessee and NAIA Warner Pacific. They have won 18 consecutive regular-season openers.
North Florida plays at Washington on Friday.
Gonzaga plays Michigan State on an aircraft carrier in San Diego on Friday.
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