Gonzaga Visits Saint Mary’s in a Battle for First


If there is a game in WCC play on Gonzaga’s schedule that draws the most annual concern, it is at Saint Mary’s. This year is no different.

In a game where GU can claim outright first place in the conference with a win, the Gaels have equal motivation to hand the country’s No. 3 team its first conference loss.

Last time around…

Saint Mary’s held tough in the first half with just a six-point deficit at halftime, but the Zags blew it open in the second winning 68-47. GU shot 52.9 percent from the field, but made of 6 of 18 3-pointers. The Gaels struggled significantly from the field shooting just 36 percent on the game.

Brad Waldow and Kevin Pangos each scored 14, and Domas Sabonis grabbed 14 rebounds.

What to watch for…

1. Wiltjer’s hot hand: Last time around, the team’s leading scorer (17.4 ppg) went for just 11 points and was for the most part handled in the post by UW transfer Desmond Simmons, minus Wiltjer making Simmons miss in a sportscenter top-10 worthy fast break play. Last game, Wiltjer mustered the third all-time best scoring performance in Gonzaga history with 45 points.  If the redshirt junior gets the 3-point shot going early like last game, his scoring prowess may continue.

2. A shootout: Gonzaga allows its opponents score an average 60.4 points per game, but has floundered above that as of late. On Thursday, Pacific put up 74 points in GU’s win. The Zags played each game in its last road trip close until the final minutes against San Francisco and Santa Clara. In the Gaels’ house, look for a barn-burner.

3. Defending Waldow: As it comes with the pedigree of being the league’s most dominant center, the Zags are going to need to throw the kitchen sink at Waldow to slow him down as they did last time. Averaging 19.7 points and 9.1 rebounds per game, the mouthguard marauder may not necessarily be the deciding factor in a SMC win, but sure is a pillar in the Gaels’ game plan.

At Gonzaga, Przemek Karnowski checked Waldow one-on-one early and held his own, but a couple of fouls turned the responsibility to both Wiltjer and Domas Sabonis–who doubled him even before he touched the ball.

Game info…

What: No. 3 Gonzaga @ Saint Mary’s

Where: McKeon Pavilion, Moraga, Calif.

When: Saturday, February 21, 7:00 p.m.

Line: GONZ -6.5

Stakes: Gonzaga ensures an outright West Coast Conference first place with a win, Saint Mary’s keeps its first place hopes alive and undoubtedly knocks the Zags from a one-seed with a win.