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Newcomers shine in Gonzaga victory

The new guys didn’t wait long to make an impact. Gonzaga’s top three scorers in a 95-69 exhibition game rout of Thompson Rivers University on Saturday night were making their Zag debuts.

USC transfer Byron Wesley led the Bulldogs in scoring (15) and rebounding (8). The senior made 5 of 10 shots and all five of his free throws. Freshman forward Domantas Sabonis provided a spark in each half and finished with 14 points and five boards.

Junior forward Kyle Wiltjer, who redshirted last season after transferring from Kentucky, struggled to find his shooting accuracy but still had 13 points and seven rebounds.

Freshman guard Josh Perkins chipped in six points and three assists.

“As of now it’s coming together sooner than later,” said Perkins, when asked how much time it could take for GU to mesh with so many newcomers. “If it clicks, look out.”

The Bulldogs’ depth was too much for the visitors from Kamloops, B.C. Gonzaga’s reserves outscored the WolfPack’s 48-13. Fourteen Bulldogs played and 12 scored.

Angel Nunez and Kyle Dranginis combined for 11 points, five boards and six assists. Bryan Alberts added seven points and Connor Griffin had a couple of dunks and scored seven points.

“We don’t have much separation from one through 12 to be honest,” coach Mark Few said. “There’s not really too many dominant guys. We have a lot of good players.”

Sophomore center Ryan Edwards and freshman guard Silas Melson didn’t play. Edwards will redshirt this season. Melson hit his head during practice earlier in the week and was held out. Alberts, a freshman wing, said he hasn’t decided if he will redshirt.

Senior guard Gary Bell Jr. scored all nine of his points in the first half as Gonzaga built a 46-28 lead. He finished with seven rebounds and three assists.

“The depth is nice,” Bell said. “You can play all out … and the guys that can come in and fill your spot are just as good. We can obviously score the ball. We have a lot of scorers, but if we focus on defense we can be really good.”

Wiltjer made just 4 of 13 shots, including a number of misses from close range. He stepped outside to drain two 3s.

“He missed more shots than he’s missed all fall,” said Few, whose team will scrimmage Texas next weekend and opens the regular season against Sacramento State on Nov. 14. “He’s fine. I’m not worried about Kyle at all.”

The Bulldogs lost track of shooters defensively at times and Thompson Rivers occasionally made them pay by hitting seven 3s. The WolfPack, paced by Brett Rouault’s 19 points and Reese Pribilsky’s 18, trailed 57-42 before Gonzaga rattled off 14 of the next 18 points.

Nunez and Sabonis each had two field goals and Perkins and Kevin Pangos added 3-pointers to fuel the run.

GU shot better from the field (56.7 percent) than the free-throw line (53.1 percent).

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