Sam Dower hit the game winning three with two seconds remaining to skirt the Gonzaga Bulldogs past the upset-minded Santa Clara Broncos, 54-52, on Wednesday.
It was a game that was one of Gonzaga's worst offensive outputs in years, but one that they were kept close to because of their defense. The Bulldogs locked down on Jared Brownridge and forced the rest of the Broncos to score. Santa Clara struggled with that.
As much as Santa Clara struggled, Gonzaga struggled as well, if not more. The two teams finished with a combined 15 field goals and 15 turnovers at half with Santa Clara holding a 22-20 edge. Santa Clara pushed the lead to five points, but Gary Bell would finally spark an offensive run from Gonzaga. An 11-0 run seemed to have the game swinging in the Bulldogs favor, and Gonzaga held a 10 point lead with four minutes left. Santa Clara went on a 13-2 run to close out the game and give the students a reason for storming the court, but you can't just count out Sam Dower power. Dower drained a three from the top of the arc on a broken play to give Gonzaga the win.
Onto the bullet points:
- Immediate gut reaction in Gonzaga land is to become hyper critical of Mark Few in games that are this close that shouldn't be. This final score wasn't Few's fault at all. The Bulldogs just failed to execute on the offensive end. They ended up shooting 16-of-46 from the floor, but a high majority of those misses came on drives to the hoop. Balls that normally fall were rolling off the rim or taking funny bounces. All in all, it just seemed like one of those nights.
- With that said, the defense was stellar. Brownridge was held to six points and Brandon Clark missed every single outside shot he took. Evan Roquemore ended with 15 points, but two of his threes came from lengths no human should ever be taking a shot at. As much as the Gonzaga offense tried to put the Bulldogs out of it, the defense was top notch and showed the resolve to keep them in it.
- Przemek Karnowski had a great game, and possibly could have had a better one if the refs weren't dolling out such weak fouls. Karno sat on the bench for a good portion of the second half, but when he was in he was great, finishing with 11 points, eight rebounds and four blocks. Most importantly, in a game when the shots were struggling, he was 3-of-4 from the charity stripe.
- Kevin Pangos was terrible, going 1-of-7 from the floor and finishing with four points. He had four assists, so that was nice, but he also didn't take a three point shot the whole game. Not sure if it was because something was wrong, or if he just wasn't feeling it. Either way, there isn't an excuse for Pangos to not take any shots from behind the arc. His home/road splits have been a glaring issue his whole career, and this was one of the perfect examples of it.
- Thank god for Gary Bell.
- By my rough glance, this is the lowest scoring output by Gonzaga since posting 50 points in a loss against Memphis on Feb. 7, 2009. As far as I know, this is probably the lowest score the Zags have posted in a win in quite a long time.
I think we can all agree on this one. A win is a win. Plus we have that loathsome hellhole in San Francisco, the War Memorial Coliseum, where many a Gonzaga win has turned into a loss, on Saturday. Let's pull up our socks and focus on that game.