The Gonzaga Bulldogs apparently read their calendars wrong and partied the end of 2016 last night. The players must’ve also stayed up the entire night before realizing that their game was in fact tonight, because otherwise it is hard to give an explanation for what happened.
True, the Zags came away with a 20 point victory, defeating Pacific, 81-61. But if there was ever a final score that wasn’t too reflective of the game, this would be it.
Gonzaga trailed 34-29 going into halftime. The first 20 minutes what a team trying to figure out how many new and inventive ways it could shoot itself in the foot. The offense was as functional as a bottle of champagne that has been left open for a year. Pacific was able to slice and dice their way around a Gonzaga team that clearly had no intention of remembering it was 2016 and was visibly looking towards 2017.
So it took one of those patented Mark Few/Tommy Lloyd halftime chats to light the requisite fire under the rear ends of the Zags to pull of the win. But not before Pacific demonstrated what can and will happen to the Zags when they go on the road in the WCC. The Zags played as sloppy of ball as possible for the first half, with Josh Perkins and Nigel Williams-Goss turning the ball over five times combined on mental mistakes and miscues. The Zags finished the first half with eight turnovers and lucky to only be down by five.
Junior forward Jacob Lampkin was unstoppable for the Tigers early on. He finished with 18 points off 9-of-11 shooting while somehow continually burning the Gonzaga interior defense. T.J. Wallace and Ray Bowles each chipped in 12 points. There wasn’t a strong point to be seen in the Zags in the first half, and it took a good portion of the second half for the Zags to play with any semblance of urgency to win the game.
It wasn’t all bad for Gonzaga, however. Przemek Karnowski was one of the lone consistent positive marks, 19 points, five rebounds, and seven assists. Jordan Mathews was deadly from long range, hitting four threes as he finished with 16 points.
Johnathan Williams finished with 14 points, and was completely ignited after getting absolutely mauled by Pacific sophomore forward Jack Williams in the second half. The play pitted a Williams vs. Williams facemash standoff, and a technical foul on Dustin Triano, which of course the officials went to the monitor for—not the potential Flagarant I that was committed. Oh WCC refs, how we love you.
Williams helped spark the final run to put Pacific away, and the rest of 2016. But rest assured, the Zags were lucky to escape with a win in this one, despite the fact the final spread was 20 points. Pacific is one of the worst teams in the conference, and if the Zags step foot into half of the other arenas with such a lackluster effort they are staring down the barrel of a double-digit halftime deficit.
At the end of the day, the Zags are now 14-0 and head into 2017 as one of the few, the strong, and the unbeaten teams. Next up is a contest in the always dangerous War Memorial Gymnasium as the Zags take on San Francisco on Jan. 5.