Hear that sound?
If you live in Eastern Washington, that is probably the sound of the wind howling. If you live in Western Washington, that is probably the sound of torrential rain falling. It doesn't matter what side of the state you live on do hear the sound of the Gonzaga Bulldogs collectively gasping as Gonzaga barely escaped Montana at home, 61-58.
This was a learning experience, if there ever was one for the Gonzaga Bulldogs. After that brutal loss at home to Arizona on Saturday, Gonzaga seemed content with serving up an even more brutal loss to Montana. From the get go, both teams struggled to formulate any sort of consistent offense.
Shots went up and fell way short. Drives to the hoop were sloppy and made no sense. The only thing holding in check was the defense of both teams. Gonzaga forced Montana into hitting just 32.3 percent of their shots from the floor, which was basically overshadowed by the fact the Zags hit only 34.5 percent of their shots in the first half. Heading into the locker room, it was 29-23.
It was an ugly first half. So ugly that even the refs started to get in on the action.
Gonzaga, for the umpteenth time in a row, came out completely flat. What little there was to rejoice in the first half rapidly vanished as Montana went on a 12-2 run to take the lead with 14:20 left in the game. The game would go back and forth for a while, but Gonzaga finally started to gain a little bit of ground thanks to Eric McClellan, Josh Perkins, Kyle Wiltjer and Domantas Sabonis. They were the lone four scorers for the Zags in the second half.
The Zags seemed destined to lose with just over a minute left. Kyle Dranginis annihilated the ball screen in an attempt to contest Brandon Gfeller's shot. Gfeller drained the three, and Dranginis was called for the foul. Jack Lopez made the two free throws and the MTV Rock ‘n Jock five point play happened.
With a minute remaining, and down two, Perkins made the first of two free throws. The second free throw went into Sabonis' hands. Perkins made the huge shot off the ball screen to put the Zags up by one. Wiltjer hit two free throws to close it out, and then collectively, we all took a breath.
There is a lot to pontificate about on this game, but I'll leave that for when I'm not as confused as to what is going on with this team. For starters, Silas Melson was once again a complete no show. He has now scored zero points in consecutive games and is shooting 28 percent from the floor over his past four games. Things got so desperate that Dustin Triano, who has seen the floor for eight minutes in garbage time, was on the floor for four minutes in the first half. After the Arizona loss, people on this blog said Few needed to just TRY SOMETHING. Triano in the first half is sign of that, and the question of this game isn't so much on Few's coaching ability, but the onus is on the players to perform. Right now, they aren't.
Perkins made the big time shot, but his game was still a question mark. He finished with five turnovers again, and his sloppiness with the ball is infuriating. However, he did step up offensively and start to take shots, which was great to see for the struggling point guard. Gonzaga has no choice but to ride out this bad weather right now (seriously, who else can you put in there). Few's post-game comments about Perkins night basically sum it up.
Few on Perkins: "Thought he was awful early & awful to start the half. Then to his credit he made some big plays and that’s not easy to do."— Jim Meehan (@SRJimm) December 9, 2015
The other main issue, of course, is the lack of Przemek Karnowski. Karnowski was again on the sideline with his back injury, and according to the broadcast, the injury hasn't been getting any better. There doesn't appear to be a timetable for when/if Karnowski gets better.
This season. Woof. I guess all we can do is buckle in.