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Pacific braces for No. 5 Gonzaga's wave of dominance

(AP Photo/Young Kwak)

Fifth-ranked Gonzaga has been terrorizing opponents since losing back-to-back games to ranked foes Tennessee and North Carolina.

The Bulldogs look to increase their streak of blowout victories to six when they host Pacific on Thursday in West Coast Conference play at Spokane, Wash.

Gonzaga (14-2, 1-0 WCC) has won its last five games by an average of 43.6, topped by a school-record 61-point margin (101-40) against Denver on Dec. 21.

The foot was again on the pedal in last Saturday's WCC opener when the Bulldogs steamrolled Santa Clara 91-48.

After the dominating win, Gonzaga coach Mark Few insisted his club will be facing numerous challenges during WCC play.

"We're going to have some really tough outs in this league," Few told reporters. "The league has done a great job in the nonconference season. It looks to me like it's the best league out West, which it's been a while since we've been able to say that.

"I think we can say that now. We're going to be challenged."

Hard to say that Pacific (10-7, 0-2) will present much of a test when it invades the raucous atmosphere of the "Kennel."

Gonzaga has won the past 12 meetings and holds a 14-1 series edge.

Also, the Tigers began conference play with losses to Brigham Young and San Diego, and they are 3-5 on the road.

Pacific shot just 38.2 percent from the field -- including 5 of 17 from 3-point range -- during Saturday's 73-64 loss at San Diego.

Third-year coach Damon Stoudamire -- the NBA Rookie of the Year in 1995-96 -- described the shooting issues as a "combination of us not being patient offensively and them packing the lane and us not figuring it out."

Stoudamire said once his team was in a hole, it couldn't get out of it against the Toreros.

"To play come-from-behind, they're a tough team to do that against," Stoudamire told reporters. "They pretty much controlled it for the last 30 minutes."

Junior guard Jahlil Tripp scored a season-best 24 points on 10-of-15 shooting. Tripp is third on the Tigers in scoring (11.4) and leads the team in rebounding (6.4) and steals (28).

Senior guard Roberto Gallinat, who had 19 points against San Diego, leads Pacific with a 15.3 scoring average. Sophomore guard Lafayette Dorsey averages 12.4 points.

The Tigers may be hard-pressed to rack up the points against the Bulldogs, who are allowing just 49.6 per game while forcing 17.8 turnovers during their winning streak.

Junior forward Rui Hachimura scored 25 points against Santa Clara for his 11th 20-point effort of the season. Hachimura is averaging 21.4 points per game.

Junior power forward Brandon Clarke is contributing 17 points and 8.1 rebounds per outing. But his defensive prowess is even more eye-opening as he has 52 blocks, just 18 shy of the school single-season mark held by Austin Daye (2008-09).

"I'm just always telling my guys I'm back there if you get beat; it's fine, really," Clarke told the Spokesman-Review of Spokane.

Junior forward Killian Tillie returned from October ankle surgery against Santa Clara and had five points in nine minutes before fouling out. Tillie was viewed as a possible WCC Player of the Year candidate prior to the season.

Tillie had 21 points and 10 rebounds in a win over Pacific last February. The performance stands as the lone double-double of his career.

--Field Level Media

Updated January 10, 2019

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