Gonzaga picked up a great win at home, moving up to joint first place in the WCC (along with St. Mary's), though having played two more games than the Gaels. This game was important, as the Zags were able to finally get the bench into a rhythm, with Bryan Alberts and Silas Melson pitching in a combined 25 points. That kind of bench productivity will be huge come March. If teams are able to key in on Sabonis and WIltjer (tough as that may be), Gonzaga tends to become toothless, without a consistent backcourt leader to pick up the slack.
The first half started out fairly sloppy, as both teams were unable to score, and committed multiple silly turnovers. Eventually after Wiltjer and Dranginis three pointers along with a McClellan tip-in, the Zags were up 8-0, holding the Dons without a point until the 15:31 mark in the first half. The next ten minutes of the half went along as Zag fans would have hoped, with Gonzaga mostly controlling the tempo (and scoreline) of the game. Silas Melson even pitched in a few three pointers! Which must have been huge for his confidence. After not being able to connect with anything for much of the last few months, this was a relief for everyone connected to the program.
The last five minutes of the first half went well for the Zags, as they ran out an 11-0 run to close the half, holding San Francisco scoreless the last 5 minutes of the half.
The second half saw the Zags build upon their 17 point lead, keyed by three pointers from McClellan and Wiltjer, both assisted by Dranginis. It was smooth sailing from then on, as the Zags played excellent defense, holding San Francisco to 30.5% shooting from the floor, and 16% from long range.
The best part of our huge lead may have been that we got to see Rem Bakamus and Dustin Triano again! As the last few WCC games have been close and Mark Few keeping a short bench rotation we've not seen much of them. Glad these guys who put in so much work, could be rewarded with a little playing time.
A few thoughts:
- Wasn't it great to see Melson shoot that well? He ended with 15 points, 4 rebounds, and a steal. A stat line I'd love to be able to see from him night in, and night out.
- Seeing the Zags crush a middling WCC team while also spreading the ball around, and putting in a real defensive effort was great to see. Truly think we'll need that kind of performance to beat teams in the NCAA tournament (assuming we get there!).
- It's unbelievable how much better this team is with Alberts and Melson pitching in good minutes for Mark Few.
- In my opinion, these were the best 40 minutes of basketball we've played this year.
- We had 10 three pointers with 17 minutes remaining in the game?!?!
- For just about the first 5 minutes and last 5 minutes of the first half, we held USF without a point. Amazing.