MALIBU, California (Ticker) -- Although NBA scouts were on hand to watch Ronny Turiaf, they had to be impressed with Cory Violette.
Violette scored 20 points and Blake Stepp added 19 as 17th-ranked Gonzaga posted an impressive 87-70 victory over Pepperdine in the West Coast Conference opener for both teams.
Turiaf, a 6-10 athletic junior forward, is considered a big-time NBA prospect who has some scouts drooling. Los Angeles Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak was among those on hand to watch Turiaf against the Waves.
But Turiaf struggled and battled foul trouble for much of the night before finishing with nine points.
Violette had no such problems as he repeatedly got inside for easy baskets. The undersized 6-8 senior center made 7-of-10 shots from the field and all six of his free throws.
Violette also grabbed nine rebounds, helping the Bulldogs to a 44-25 advantage on the boards.
Erroll Knight and Kyle Bankhead each added 10 points for Gonzaga (11-2, 1-0 WCC), which took control of the contest with a 20-8 run over the final 9 1/2 minutes of the first half to build a 40-27 lead.
Glen McGowan netted 20 points and freshman Shaun Davis added 16 for the Waves (5-11, 0-1), who are traditionally the Bulldogs' biggest threat in the conference. But the Waves looked overmatched at times in this one.
The Bulldogs found the surroundings at the small Firestone Fieldhouse to their liking as they shot an impressive 60 percent (28-of-47), including 10-of-17 from 3-point range.
After building their double-digit halftime lead, the Bulldogs were able to maintain it after intermission by shooting 65 percent (15-of-23).
Terrance Johnson drilled a 3-pointer less than five minutes into the second half, pulling the Waves within 50-42. But they got no closer.
Johnson finished with 15 points but made just 5-of-21 shot. He settled for jumpers most of the time and went 4-of-14 from beyond the arc.
Stepp, who scored 16 points in the second half, drilled two 3-pointers in an 11-4 surge that Violette capped with a three-point play, pushing the lead to 68-52 with 8:41 to go. Stepp made 5-of-9 attempts from 3-point range.
The Waves shot 37 percent (26-of-70) and went 8-of-30 from the arc.