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Gonzaga starts slow, cruises past rival Saint Mary's

It was a total team effort as the Zags dominated the Gaels...

James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

It was exactly what a rivalry game should be for about 30 minutes.

These two programs know eachother very well.  Yes, they are in the same conference but over the past several years they have dominated it to a point where you could pencil them in for a third meeting in the WCC title game.  Tonight, the first half of the Gonzaga and Saint Mary's clash indicated that.  It was an incredibly close contest with both teams cautiously working through their game trying not to make mistakes.  At the end of the first half, the Zags led by just six and you could argue that SMC won the half as they controlled the pace and slowed things down.

That worked...for a while.  Gonzaga opened the game up in the second half and it became pretty clear that, while these two programs were both unbeaten in conference heading into the game, it wasn't close who the top dog was.  It was a stark contrast of styles.  Saint Mary's was completely reliant on Brad Waldow and, as he went, so did the Gaels.  Mark Few put together a nice gameplan to double and triple team Waldow at every opportunity but he still was able to sneak through from time to time.

On the other end, it was a complete team effort form the Zags.  It once again started in the past with Karnowski and Sabonis getting a majority of the looks and get touches early and often.   They both played well although they were saddled with fouls early as Waldow was physical in the first half.  Przemek Karnowski, in particular, continued his impressive run through WCC play as he really turned the tide in the second half with back to back dunks that blew this game open.

Kyle Wiltjer and Kevin Pangos took the reins from Karnowski and delivered some final blows to the Gaels but the damage had been done by Karnowski and some consistently stellar Gonzaga defense.

The Bulldogs move to 19-1 and 8-0 in conference with the win.