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The Morning After: Zags Second Half Run Squashes Saint Mary's

Gary Bell led the way for Gonzaga in the second half as they thwarted Saint Mary's upset bid...

Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

Below is about as good as it gets:

Time Gonzaga Score Saint Mary's
20:00 32-33
19:41 Bell, Jr made 3 Pointer 35-33
19:13 Olynyk made Free Throw 36-33
19:13 Olynyk made Free Throw 37-33
18:57 Harris made Layup 39-33
18:41 39-35 Holt made Tip Shot.
18:26 Pangos made Jumper 41-35
18:04 Bell, Jr made Layup 43-35
17:46 43-37 Waldow made Layup.
16:43 Bell, Jr made 3 Pointer 46-37
15:55 Pangos made Free Throw 47-37
15:30 Harris made Free Throw 48-37
15:30 Harris made Free Throw 49-37
14:45 Olynyk made 3 Pointer 52-37

Yep, that is the first five minutes of the second half and for as good as it looks on paper, it looked even better as it was happening. It is even more amazing when you consider the context. In the last five minutes of the first half, Saint Mary's went on a 13-6 run to take a one point lead at halftime. Matthew Dellavedova scored 11 of his 19 first half points in that five minute stretch and every Gonzaga fan in the world was wondering just how many he would put up in the second half at home.

3 points, on 1-6 from the floor is the answer to that question. For as obnoxiously excellent as he was in the first half, he was just as silent in the second. Much of the credit goes to the combination of Mike Hart and Gary Bell for that as they drew the tandem task of shutting down one of the top players to play in this conference in recent memory.

Back to the beautiful 20-4 run referenced above. We tweeted at halftime that in a game such as this, the first few minutes of the second half would likely decide the game. While that insight is admittedly not Earth-shattering, in this case, it rang true. Gonzaga simply had to extinguish the momentum Saint Mary's had built at the end of the first half or else the game really could have gone the other way in a hurry.

The great thing about the run is that it was diverse. Whereas Saint Mary's leans so heavily on one man, every Gonzaga starter aside from Mike Hart contributed to the scoring barrage and we know Hart's role is to cause mayhem rather than to score. Sophomore Gary Bell Jr. led the way during this stretch - and for the entire game - with eight points coming off two fantastic three-pointers and a lay-in. Saint Mary's at times dared Gary to shoot it from deep as they tried desperately to take away the post game and Bell made them pay. For as much discussion has gone on around Gary and his performance this season, a night like he had last night is just what the doctor ordered as we round the corner and run towards March.

The entire second half was a dream which peaked at the very beginning. Whether it was Bell's continuous daggers, Olynyk's fadeaway three, or - my biggest fist pump of the night - Sam Dower's jumper with 3 minutes left when the door was still slightly open for the Gaels to come back. Sam's nailed it from the wing, Saint Mary's called a timeout, and the celebration was on for the small contingent of Gonzaga fans at the McKeon Pavilion.

Normally, I would be a bit concerned about Saturday's game. With the early start time and coming off such an emotional win, this team would seem prime for a letdown. But knowing that this current group of players has never won in War Memorial Gym, I think there will be plenty of motivation.