#3 Gonzaga looks to take on St. Mary’s in one of the biggest, most heated rivalries in the WCC. Gonzaga students have been staying in tents overnight in order to get a front row seat to this game. It should be a tight battle that will come down to the wire.
For the past two years the St. Mary’s at Gonzaga game has been scheduled over Gonzaga’s winter break. A few students would return to Spokane for the game, but the Kennel is definitely no where near as loud or energetic as it usually would be during the semester. Since this game is finally scheduled while classes are in session, expect the McCarthy Athletic Center to be extremely loud.
The Zags are coming off of a win against LMU where guard play was dominant. This strong play from the backcourt will need to remain at a high level if the Zags are going to remain undefeated in conference play. In that game against LMU, Przemek Kanowski only had two points. I expect him to come into this game against St. Mary’s with a chip on his shoulder, looking to score. Gary Bell Jr. may have started to find his groove. He had 17 points in the last game against LMU. He will need to keep this level of play up in order to the Zags to continue to be successful.
Keys for a Zag victory
1. Shut down Brad Waldow: This is a tall order. Gonzaga’s big men have a significant height advantage on Waldow and they will need to use this to shut him down. This is much easier said than done.
2. Perimeter defense: This is the weakest point in the Gonzaga defense. The St. Mary’s guards are great shooters. If Gonzaga wants to win they need to limit the number of threes that the Gaels take.
3. Production from the post: Gonzaga’s front court is one of the best in the country. They need to utilize it to its full potential.
For St. Mary’s, senior forward, Brad Waldow is putting up amazing numbers this year. He is averaging 20.6 points per game as well as 10.1 rebounds. These are both career highs for him. Waldow has been a thorn in Gonzaga’s side for the past three years. He will look to continue this trend and put up more big numbers. Freshman guard, Emmett Naar is also having a good season. He averages 5.1 assists per game and is also shooting 42.2% from three point range. Another guard who is having a strong season is senior Kerry Carter. He is averaging 12.9 points per game and 5.9 rebounds per game. He is also shooting 41.4% from deep. It will be important for the guards to shoot well from long range in order for St. Mary’s to win.
Keys to a Gael win
1. Shut down Gonzaga’s big men: Post play will dictate the flow of the game. If Gonzaga’s bigs get going it will be tough for St. Mary’s to stay in the game.
2. Defense: Aside from just their post players, Gonzaga’s guards are also elite. The Gaels will need to play lights out defense all night in order to win.
3. Dictate tempo: This is something that the Zags like to do. If The Gaels can control the tempo they will have a better shot at winning.
Both Gonzaga and St. Mary’s are 7-0 in WCC play. One of them will no longer be undefeated after this game. The game will be on ESPNU at 8:00 pm PT.