Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports
The Zags' second half defense led them to a huge win tonight over Saint Mary's...
What is now considered one of the top rivalries in the entire country lived up to the hype tonight. It was a passionate and, at times, chippy affair but in the end, the fifth ranked Gonzaga Bulldogs walked away with a 77-60 win at the McKeon Pavilion. While the score will make it look like it was a comfortable win, anyone that knows this rivalry knows that it was a hotly contested affair. In the end, the difference was Gonzaga's incredible second half defense as they went on to get the huge win in Moraga.
Similar to what we saw in the first matchup, this was a game that was largely dominated by Gonzaga. Saint Mary's made a number of runs, particularly at the end of the second half when Matthew Dellavedova went absolutely nuts. The star guard for the Gaels ended the first half with 19 points and had Bulldog fans everywhere holding their collective breaths.
The good news, however, is that Dellavedova only finished with 22 points for the entire game. Dellavedova only connected on one shot attempt in the second half as the combination of Gary Bell and Mike Hart stifled the talented guard and really took all hope of a Saint Mary's upset away.
On the offensive end for the Zags, it was a total team effort. Leading the way was Gary Bell, Kevin Pangos, and Kelly Olynyk. The trio finished with 20, 18, and 17 points respectively and, for Gonzaga fans, it was a pleasure seeing both of Gonzaga's starting guards have solid offensive performances on the same night. This has to be one of, if not Gary Bell's best game at Gonzaga. Gary hit several huge threes down the stretch for the Zags and played with a confidence that we saw disappear for a while this season. Pangos was quiet yet excellent on the way to 18 points and Kelly Olynyk was his usual self but also provided some big outside buckets for the Zags tonight.
The story of the game will be the second half defense spearheaded by Hart and Bell and it should be. Hart flew around the court all night long and made things very uncomfortable for the Gaels. Mark Few elected to throw the kitchen sink at Dellavedova in the second half and it worked as his teammates simply didn't have enough to carry out the upset bid.
Next up for the Zags is a date at War Memorial Gymnasium where they have some demons. It has been three years since Gonzaga has left San Francisco with a win so if you are expecting things to get a little less stressful following this win, think again.