Don't tell us we didn't warn you. Keion Bell is the most exciting player not wearing a Gonzaga uniform and I'm getting ready to go ahead and call him the most exciting player in the entire WCC. Gonzaga needed a career night from Matt Bouldin tonight as they survived a torrid second half by the Pepperdine star to win by seven points in Spokane. Words are hard to describe the night Bell had against the Zags. In the first twenty minutes, the 6'3'' guard had three points. He absolutely went off in the second stanza, scoring 22 of Pepperdine's first 24 points in the half and kept his team in the game. In the end, the Zags turned out to be too much but it obviously wasn't the exact performance Gonzaga fans were hoping for tonight at the MAC.
Thankfully for Gonzaga, their two-headed monster of a backcourt decided to show up with authority tonight as well. I thought Matt Bouldin and Steven gray were sensational this evening for the Bulldogs. Bouldin's career high 32 point performance came on 10-16 shooting (3-5 from three). He was in control all night, hit some big outside jumpers, and made some huge drives to the hoop time and time again. I thought Steven was pretty tremendous as well. He is playing with a lot of confidence and, although he had three turnovers, he had five boards, a couple of steals, and three assists. He added 20 points to that on 8-15 shooting as well.
The Gonzaga front court was a one man show this evening as Elias Harris continues his impressive play. He started out a little bit slow but made some big shots in the second half and finished with 20 points of his own. He shot 8-14 from the floor in typical Elias fashion. A couple of nice jumpers mixed in with some drives that just make you wonder how the kid is a freshman. He had 13 huge rebounds to give him his third double-double in Gonzaga's last five games. His nice night was especially important because his frontcourt counterpart Robert Sacre didn't do a whole lot. The Canadian center only played 21 minutes and was 0-3 from the floor and never got on the board. He finished with three assists unofficially but it was a night to forget for Rob.
The bench and the coaching I thought were very good tonight. Mark Few made another nice decision this evening by keeping Mangisto Arop in the game down the stretch and when things were hanging in the balance. Manny's role tonight was just perfect. He only had three points but filled up the stat sheet with five boards and a couple of assists that were just beautiful. I'm sure people will be calling for Manny to play more minutes and I think he will in conference play. His size really creates match up issues for WCC teams and I'm confident that guys like Matt and Steven can run the point against these inferior teams. Bol struggled shooting the ball, going 1-4 from the floor but had three assists of his own. Kelly Olynyk was 2-2 from the field and played well in 14 minutes.
Free throws are really starting to wear on me quite a bit to be honest. Elias Harris and Demetri Goodson combining to go 7-15 from the line of home really worries me. Meech is more to blame in this instance as he missed five but I think everyone would agree that these two have got to get it together. Both of them are really nice attackers that draw plenty of fouls and they've just got to connect on these charity shots. Goodson especially has to improve or it is going to become really hard to keep him on the court during conference play. I love his defense, love his hustle but for a point guard that already doesn't create many scoring chances, he's got to cash in on what he is good at.
The great news is that Gonzaga is now in sole possession of the West Coast Conference lead. A 4-0 record with the schedule they have coming up has to be positive for all Bulldog fans. Next up is Loyola Marymount on Saturday at 5 PM PST in Spokane.