Johnny Williams popped in 25 points to lead Gonzaga to a 54-46 victory over St. Anthony's last night at Georgetown University's Mcdonough gym.
Williams, a 5-foot-9 junior guard, quarterbacked the Eagles on offense and played the point guard in Gonzaga's 1-2-2 zone defense that was responsible for controlling the Tonies inside.
"After our man-to-man brought us back, we switched to the zone to combat their height," said Eagle Coach Dick Myers.
"Our tallest player (Tom Sluby) is only 6-4, so we had to try and make them shoot over us," added myers.
St. Anthony's took an early 8-o lead by lobbing the ball in to its center, 6-6 Raymond Knight, who either turned for a layup or passed the ball back out to the wings for easy jumpers.
Gonzaga (3-1) contributed to its deficit by turning over the ball eight of its first 11 possessions before calming down under the leadership of Williams.
Williams got four of his five steals by playing the passing lanes during the last 10 minutes of the first half, when the Eagles swept to a 29-21 lead.
"Johnny is supposed to collapse authomatically when their center gets the ball in the low post," said Sluby, who scored 10 points and collected a game-high 13 rebounds.
St. Anthony's tried to keep forcing the ball in to Knight, but Williams, with quick hands and perception ended up with it and led a transition offense downcourt for easy layups and open jump shots.
"We knew what they'd do because they beat us by two points in our first game this season. We knew that if we cut down on our own mistakes and played a good zone when we got ahead, that we'd beat them," said Williams.
St. Anthony's (4-4) narrowed the margin to four points on several occasions in the third quarter, but never got up enough steam to get closer.
The fourth quarter opened with the score 39-35, but a layup off an offensive rebound by Gonzaga's Bob Williams (no relation) and a steal and layup by Johnny Williams effectively ended the rally.
Gonzaga expended its lead to 10 points early in the fourth quarter as St. Anthony's went cold, hitting only four of 11 shots.
Williams salted away the victory by scoring the Eagles' last six points from the foul line.