If this was a cheesy sitcom, Gonzaga and Saint Mary's would have been playing good cop, bad cop with the Pacific Tigers. The soon to be newcomers to the WCC has taken on both the Gaels and the Zags now to drastically different results. Saint Mary's welcomed Pacific by letting them take a ten point victory while the Bulldogs introduction was a bit more...stern. Mark Few's club dominated the Tigers after a sluggish start to coast to a 85-67 victory in Spokane.
Even though Gonzaga's starting backcourt shot a very pedestrian 6-19 from the floor, it was the front court of the Bulldogs that really flexed its muscle. Sam Dower, Elias Harris, and Kelly Olynyk scored 18, 17, and 15 points, respectively. All three were incredibly impressive throughout the game and if they continue to play with that tenacity, I don't think there is a team in the United States that can truly match them. Oh, yeah, and I haven't even discuss freshman Przemek Karnowski yet, who only finished with six points but added six boards.
In particular, it was Kelly Olynyk that got GU out of its sluggish start and kicked into high gear. Words fall short when explaining just how different of a player the Canadian center is since his redshirt season. He's fluid, deliberate, and possesses refined abilities that he was nowhere near when we last saw him. Rather than looking like a point guard playing low post, he looks like he's been 7-feet his whole life and he recently added an outside game. Kelly had 11 points in the first 14 minutes and did it in a variety of ways. He was contested on most of his attempts and was running the court and posting guys up, equally.
Sam Dower and Elias Harris also chipped in in a big way. Dower was smooth as ever. The forward from Minnesota was showing off his full repertoire of post moves which is defined by his lefty hook across the lane. He finished with 18 points in 24 minutes and added nine boards. Elias Harris had a below average night on the glass, only finishing with four rebounds but it wasn't for lack of effort. The German native ended up with 17 points on the night.
All in all, a tremendous effort by Mark Few's club particularly for 35 minutes. Pacific will be a solid team in the conference for many years but tonight was a bitter first taste of their new conference.