SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) – Gonzaga’s Austin Daye had jitters in his first college basketball game, what with his father in the stands and missing his first two shots.
But Daye found his range, scoring 20 points and grabbing 10 rebounds as No. 14 Gonzaga pounded Montana 77-54 in its season opener on Sunday.
“I hope I didn’t set the bar too high,” said Daye, the son of former UCLA and NBA player Darren Daye.
The 6-foot-10 Daye, from Irvine, Calif., is one of the most prized recruits in Gonzaga history, and he showed why as he made 8 of 13 field goals, both his 3-point attempts and led all players in rebounding. He also had two blocks and two steals.
“My dad was watching my first college game. It was pretty nerve-racking,” Daye said.
Coach Mark Few said Daye hadn’t put on such a display in practice.
“Austin is a gamer,” Few said. “It’s only one game out, but it’s an incredible opening act.”
Gonzaga’s impressive win was tempered by news that star forward Josh Heytvelt will have surgery on Monday to insert two screws in his foot, and will miss four to six weeks.
“It’s another setback I have,” said Heytvelt, who was recently reinstated to the team after missing the last nine games of last season following his arrest for drug possession.
Few also said that freshman Steven Gray suffered a broken wrist in the exhibition game against Emporia State and will be out six weeks. And Theo Davis flew home to deal with an illness in his family.
“All that depth is poof, just like that,” Few said.
Gonzaga (1-0) had plenty of depth for Montana (1-1), which is expected to be one of the contenders in the Big Sky Conference this season.
The Grizzlies fell behind by double digits early because of poor shooting, and never threatened after that.
The Bulldogs made 53 percent of their field goals and 15 of 21 free throws. Montana made just 30 percent of its shots, including 5 of 22 3-pointers.
“I think it all started with the defense,” said Gonzaga’s Jeremy Pargo, who scored 17 points and had five assists. Matt Bouldin added 13 and Larry Gurganious 12 points, and the Zags dominated the rebounding 40-29.
The Grizzlies were led by Matt Martin’s 18 points.
“They’re a very good team,” Martin said of the Zags. “They should probably be in the top 10.”
Martin was also impressed by Daye’s debut.
“He changed a lot of shots out there,” Martin said. “On offense, he shoots like a wing.”
The Zags blew the game open with a 15-4 run late in the first half for a 36-16 lead with 5 minutes left.
Gonzaga led 44-25 at halftime, after holding Montana to 29 percent shooting while shooting 55 percent.
Seven different Zags scored in the first half, led by Daye’s 12 first-half points.
Montana went on a 10-2 run in the second half to close the deficit to 51-37. But the Zags answered with an 11-3 run, holding Montana scoreless for 5 minutes, for a 62-40 lead with 9:44 left. The Grizzlies scored only seven points during a 10-minute span late in the game.
“I wish we could play like that every game,” Few said.
Once a member of the Big Sky, Gonzaga leads the series 101-48. Montana has not won since 1996, and has lost nine straight in the series.
Gonzaga is 40-1 in the McCarthey Athletic Center since it opened in 2004.
Gonzaga finished 23-11 last season.
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