SPOKANE, Wash. (AP)Drew Timme scored a season-high 32 points and grabbed 11 rebounds, and No. 11 Gonzaga beat Montana 85-75 on Tuesday night for its 72nd straight home victory.
Gonzaga’s home win streak is tied with UNLV (1974-78) for the ninth-longest in NCAA history. It’s the longest streak since the expansion of the NCAA Tournament in 1985 and the longest since Lamar’s 80-game run from 1978-84.
”That’s crazy. Obviously that’s something that no one can really say they’ve ever done,” Timme said. ”It’s a testament to Coach and how he’s ran the ship and he’s always consistent. We didn’t have `The Kennel’ today and this place was still rocking.”
Texas Tech has the second-longest active home win streak in the nation at 27 games.
Timme started 4 for 9 from the free throw line but went 4 for 4 down the stretch to seal the game after a late Montana rally. The Grizzlies cut a 17-point, second-half deficit to five with 3:06 to play on Josh Bannan’s jumper but couldn’t get any closer.
”(Timme) made some big free throws and just like all year, we’ve been running everything through him pretty much,” Gonzaga coach Mark Few said. ”A lot of our offense is generated through throwing it into him.”
Gonzaga (10-3) made up for a poor first half from 3-point range by making 40% of its 3-point attempts in the second half to hold off the Grizzlies (6-6).
Ben Gregg and Malachi Smith combined for 20 of Gonzaga’s 22 bench points in the second half to ignite Gonzaga’s offense.
”My confidence has never wavered,” Smith said. ”I know what I’m capable of doing and I go out there every game just trying to win.”
The Zags held a 33-27 advantage in rebounding and turned 12 Montana turnovers into 17 points in the first matchup since a near upset in 2015.
Bannan scored 19 points and Brandon Whitney added 15. Dischon Thomas scored 15 points – all in the second half – to keep the Grizzlies within striking distance before fouling out.
Montana made four of its first five 3-pointers to jump on Gonzaga early but finished the last 6:20 of the first half without a field goal. Gonzaga closed on a 13-3 run to erase an early eight-point Grizzlies lead.
”We just had too many lulls where we didn’t get good shots,” said Montana coach Travis DeCuire ”First half kind of put us in a hole and then same thing in the second half . when our pace is good we get easy offense.”
Montana: The Grizzlies had their three-game winning streak snapped and their road record fell to 1-5 on the season. Montana was picked third in the preseason Big Sky coaches’ poll and welcomes Eastern Washington to open conference play on Dec. 29.
Gonzaga: The win was the 100th of Timme’s career and his overall record sits at 100-10. The Zags begin conference play against Pepperdine on Dec. 31 after wrapping up a grueling non-conference schedule that included five opponents ranked in the AP Top 25.
Montana: Home against Eastern Washington.
Gonzaga: Hosts Eastern Oregon.