After one truly ugly first half, the Gonzaga Bulldogs were able to stop dragging their knuckles across the gym floor to defeat the Pacific Tigers, 71-61.
The Zags shot 39.3 percent from the floor and were just 1-of-7 from three point range in the first half. Toss in a pretty bad 3-for-7 from the free throw line, and Gonzaga went into the locker room only leading 26-25. Pacific wasn't much better, hitting just 24.1 percent from the floor, but made up the difference at the charity stripe.
Things seemed to be much more Gonzaga-like in the second-half. However, it did take the Zags falling into a five-point deficit for the team to open up. Eric McClellan scored 15 points in the second half and Wiltjer added 14, including a huge offensive rebound off a missed free-throw that he followed up with a three pointer to have Gonzaga-land breathing safely again.
For all of the talk about watching Gonzaga struggle with leads and crumble in the face of pressure, the Bulldogs did an admirable job of locking down and focusing on making each play count. After Pacific hit back-to-back threes to make it a five-point lead with 15 minutes left in the second half, McClellan took matters into his own hands. The senior Gonzaga guard scored eight of the next 10 Gonzaga points to reclaim a lead the Bulldogs never relinquished.
Domantas Sabonis had a rare bad shooting night, finishing with just 12 points off of 3-of-10 shooting. He made up for it by gathering 20 rebounds, a new career high for the sophomore forward. Overall, it was a rough shooting night (afternoon) for Gonzaga, who finished the game with just 0.986 points per possession, their lowest mark of the season.
Alec Kobre led the Tigers with 20 points, who took a beating in the game. Ray Bowles left the game with an apparent back injury. Human cube Erik Thompson spent time on the bench with a tweaked shoulder and then received an accidental elbow to the jaw as a thank you for his fifth foul.
In the end, it was a rather ugly game. But the ugly game translated to a win. For Gonzaga, after that heartbreaking loss to Saint Mary's, all they can do is focus on getting those wins one game at a time, no matter how it all looks in the end.