Nervous excitement was running through the veins of every Gonzaga fan. Thoughts of Dellavedova and his mouth guard, of Where’s Waldow, and the beat of the “Gaels Gone Wild” music video were hauntingly present throughout the day as we anxiously awaited the start of the game.
And then the game began, and the first half was the battle everyone had been expecting. Gonzaga built a 9 point lead throughout the half, but Mathew Dellavadova had other plans as he quickly got his team back into the game and took the 3 point lead with just seconds left on the clock. The Zags caught a break as Mitchell Young fouled Kevin Pangos with under 2 seconds left. Pangos sunk both free throws, and the Zags ended the half down by 1. What would happen in the second half? If the Zags followed the pattern established the last few games…they would be in trouble, as the Zags have been outscored in the second half often in league play.
The first half wasn’t played poorly by any means, but it was different. Olynyk hadn’t really gotten into a rhythm and the game was just too close for comfort. The defense on Delly wasn’t going to get the job done, as he was allowed to score 19 points. But the second half really established Gonzaga as the dominant team. We came out of the locker rooms with a renewed energy, with our minds on defense and we executed the game plan, holding Delly to just an additional 3 points on 1-6 shooting.
The game ended up being a blowout by most standards as the Zags pulled out a 17 point lead, yet it was never comfortable for Gonzaga fans as St. Mary’s is always an offensive threat. Kelly Olynyk had his standard stat line of 17 points, and 7 rebounds. Kevin Pangos had a stellar game with 18 points, 6 rebounds and 3 assists. Harris, who had a quieter offensive night with 7 points, chipped in 9 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal and 1 block. But the real difference makers of the game were Mike Hart and Gary Bell Jr. Bell had the game that everyone was waiting for. He locked down on defense in the second half, but still managed to put up 20 points, including 4 of 5 made baskets from the arc. Mike Hart was the hustle player he always is, but this was probably one of his best games in a Zags uniform. He was all over the court causing turnovers, saving plays, and chipping in 5 points.
Overall, Gonzaga outscored the Gaels 45 – 27 in the second half. In the first meeting against the Gaels, the Zags shot 58.3% in the first half. In this meeting Gonzaga shot 58.3% in the second half. It was again a tale of two halves. Gonzaga ended the game with 50% fg shooting, 52.9% 3pt shooting, and 83.3% ft shooting. 10 zags saw time in this game, and 9 different Zags scored.
This game established Gonzaga as the best in the West. This game showed that the Zags truly are worthy of a top 5 ranking. But league play continues, and the quest to regain the WCC regular season crown and the WCC Tournament Championship looms large. Next up is a quick turnaround, a 1:30pm game at War Memorial Gym in San Francisco. The current Zags squad has never won there, with the last win coming in 2009. The pesky Dons always play Gonzaga close, and winning in San Fran is a tough task. The Zags should be hungry to continue their dominance, only a few more hours to wait!