Saturday, February 11, 2017

No. 1 Gonzaga 74, No. 20 Saint Mary's 64: Bulldogs survive a tough test in the Bay Area

                                                         Photo Credit: Gonzaga Athletics

By: Devin Larkins
Twitter: @motownape

MORAGA, Calif— The stands at McKeon Pavilion were filled to capacity, which held a bit more than the 3,500 maximum capacity crowd. Hundreds stood to view the biggest game in West Coast Conference history as the top-ranked Gonzaga Bulldogs (26-0, 14-0 WCC) held off the No. 20 Saint Mary Gaels (22-3, 12-2) 74-64.

Przemek Karnowski gave Gonzaga 15 first half points on 7-of-8 from the field and added three assists to push them to a 32-32 score half way through the first.

"Przemek had an unbelievable first half. He was unstoppable in there,” Gonzaga coach Mark Few said. “There is not many like in college basketball. He is big but he can pass and can deliver if you double team him."

Saint Mary’s coach Randy Bennett mentioned how Gonzaga’s big men hurt its strategy throughout the game.

“We didn’t a very good job of post defense. The Bulldogs hurt us there early,” Saint Mary’s coach Randy Bennett said. “Still all night, [Johnathan] Williams and Karnowski hurt us.”

During a span of three minutes, the Gaels went on a 9-0 run, culminated with the Gaels tying the game at 23-23.

The Gaels’ Jock Landale had a game high of 24 points, while scoring on back-to-back plays, which impressed the home crowd with his footwork. The late surge by the Gaels got the lead to single digits as the first half ended with the Zags ahead 40-31. 

The second half began with the both teams trading buckets as Williams made a three-point shot, yet quickly answered with a made jump shot by Calvin Hermanson from the Gaels

The Gaels managed to get the game as close as five points in the second half.

The comeback would be staved off by a Williams combination of inside-out side plays, hitting a pointer from the corner and a baby hook in the paint.

The Bulldogs defense held the Gaels to 37 percent shooting from the field.

[On defense] he [Karnowski] was a big mountain of a man, a pretty good rim protector,” Few said.

The Bulldogs increased their winning streak to a total of 26, heading into the final stretch of the regular season.

Both teams return to action on Feb. 16 as the Bulldogs take on a tough San Francisco Dons squad (18-8, 8-5 WCC) in a conference matchup as the Gaels look to get back on the winning track against the Loyola Marymount University Lions (12-13, 5-9).

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