The Gonzaga Bulldogs led Mount St. Mary's by 12 going into the locker room at halftime, but if you took a look at the chatter on the game, you would've thought the Zags were in a double-digit deficit. That shows the level of hype on this season's team.
Whatever Mark Few said to the team at half did the trick, however. The Bulldogs cleaned up on sloppy play and dialed in the defense, outscoring the Mountaineers 60-27 in the second half to take home a 101-56 win.
Six Zags scored in double-figures, led by Silas Melson and Domantas Sabonis with 15 points a piece. Sabonis added 14 rebounds to the stat sheet. As a team, Gonzaga shot 59.1 percent from the floor.
The way the box score reads, everything in the game went top notch. For the most part, everything was going according to plan in the first half, except for two key things: turnovers and outside shooting. The Bulldogs were 1-of-7 from beyond the arc in the first 20 minutes of the game and the turnovers were a contest to see which one could be sloppier than the next.
But, like good teams do, the Bulldogs adjusted and tightened the screws. Outside of the final five minutes of the first half, Gonzaga's defense was on point. The passing lanes stayed consistently clogged and the Mountaineers had to work way too hard to find a free shot. Mount St. Mary's finished the game shooting 35 percent from the floor.
Hats off to the Mountaineers, however, for playing a feisty game. They harried the Gonzaga frontline whenever it was possible, and forced the backcourt to beat them. Unfortunately/fortunately, the backcourt stepped up and then some. Gonzaga's vaunted big three finished with just 35 points. Kyle Wiltjer had a rough night from the field, shooting just 4-of-12 from the floor.
The backcourt hit its groove. Eric McClellan gave the Bulldogs a jolt of energy to open the game, and Melson scored like the player we all know he can be. This team is exciting to watch, and its ceiling is visibly high. At the same time, there is a lot of work to be done.
- Backup point guard will be an interesting discussion. McClellan for the most part doesn't look very comfortable bringing up the ball, and Josh Perkins can't play 40 minutes. This was an issue more often than it should have been because of the heat the Mountaineers brought on inbounding the ball.
- Which leads to the next point: the Bulldogs need to be much better at recognizing pressure from a press and not panicking. There were a lot of bad passes, decisions, and plays from everyone. Good teams will punish you 100 percent of the time on these errors.
- Thank goodness for Kyle Dranginis. When the wheels seem to be falling off, he is there to provide a steady hand. He is slotting into his role as perfectly as anyone could ask, and by the end of the year he might be one of the most vital players on this team.
- Perkins had a couple of bad turnovers, but overall played a much more cleaned up game. He also had a few assists that left my jaw on the floor. He is probably the best passing point guard the Zags have had since Matt Bouldin, and might be even better.
- Melson looked much more comfortable in this game. He drove to the hoop on good takes and he only took a few open shots. His outside shot has been a bit shaky, so it was nice to see him get close and expand from there.
- It didn't seem like it for much, but this was a pretty ridiculous efficient game for many of the players. Dranginis finished with an offensive rating of 154, Sabonis at 157, Melson at 149 and McClellan at 137. It goes to show, that when a big piece isn't clicking, there are more than enough backups to pick up the slack.