Gonzaga was in desperate need of a sparkplug in its West Coast Conference opener, and David Stockton was happy to oblige. Stockton came off the...
MALIBU, Calif. — Gonzaga was in desperate need of a sparkplug in its West Coast Conference opener, and David Stockton was happy to oblige.
Stockton came off the bench to help the 10th-ranked Bulldogs climb out of a deficit in the first half and he provided another boost in the second of Gonzaga’s 78-62 victory over Pepperdine on Thursday night.
Elias Harris scored 18 points and Kelly Olynyk had 16 as the Bulldogs (14-1, 1-0 WCC) won despite shooting a season-low 43.4 percent from the field.
Stockton scored nine points and had four steals, and Kevin Pangos scored nine points.
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Stockton keyed Gonzaga with three steals in the first half and helped the Bulldogs get the ball to their big men to hold off a rallying Pepperdine team that was down two points with 12 minutes left.
“I thought he sparked us in both halves,” Gonzaga coach Mark Few said. “He was the one guy that was being proactive. I thought I had a whole team full of guys that was being reactive. Both times we put David in the game he kind of got us going.”
Stockton, the son of Naismith Hall of Fame point guard John Stockton, took pride in the four steals. It was originally five, but one was taken away on the final box score.
“I like to see that on there,” Stockton said. “That’s something I’ve always tried to do, and I’ve kind of lost sight of it. It was fun to fly around tonight and get your hands on a lot of things and disrupt a team.
“I was just trying to provide a spark. I have the luxury to sit and watch and see how our team is feeling. Whatever I can provide, whatever I can see, I can go out and that’s my goal on the court — to help the team in any way possible and stay on that spark.”
Pangos gave Gonzaga the lead for good at 38-36 on a three-pointer, and the Bulldogs pulled away for their 23rd consecutive win against Pepperdine, its longest streak against a conference opponent.
Lorne Jackson led the Waves (8-6, 0-1) with 16 points, and Jordan Baker had 15.
Jackson kept the Waves in it for much of the second half. He made consecutive baskets on a three-pointer and a long two-pointer from the corner to get the Waves within 43-41, but Stockton responded with a drive.
“I think he was the difference-maker in the game,” Jackson said.