Coming off three standout performances at the Maui Invitational that earned him West Coast Conference player of the week honors, Watson was held to a season low in points but made up for it with his work on the boards.
“He was great. I told him that afterwards,” Gonzaga coach Mark Few said. “The plays he makes, the way he competes — what can I say? He’s a winner, and he made a lot of winning plays tonight.”
It wasn’t a fluid effort for the Bulldogs in their first game back after playing three times in three days in Hawaii. Gonzaga went 2-1 at the tournament with wins over Syracuse and UCLA, and a loss to No. 1 Purdue.
Few noted that several members of the traveling party picked up an illness upon returning from Hawaii.
“Obviously that game was not our A game. We had some choppiness and that’s due to Bakersfield competing,” Few said. “They competed in every phase, and on a night like tonight you've got to buckle down and go make plays.”
The Bulldogs went through several shooting droughts against the Roadrunners, including a seven-minute stretch of the first half. But Gonzaga used an 11-2 run in the second half to break open the game, and Hickman’s layup gave the Bulldogs their largest lead at 70-48.
“We weren’t as focused as we needed to be, but at the end of the day a win is a win,” Nembhard said. “We’ll move forward and get right. Our defense is in a great place and we’re going to keep working on our offense.”
Cal State Bakersfield: The Roadrunners were picked to finish eighth in the Big West preseason poll, but keeping the game close through the first half should give them confidence working through the nonconference part of their schedule.
Gonzaga: The Bulldogs improved to 5-0 against Cal State Bakersfield. It was a good tune-up for Gonzaga with a challenging next couple of weeks on the schedule.
Cal State Bakersfield: Will host Whittier next Tuesday.
Gonzaga: The Bulldogs play Southern California on Saturday in Las Vegas.
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- Larry Spaulding
- Mike Reed
- Nate Harris