Day, er, night after Saint Mary's

Robert Sacre of Gonzaga can't find room to shoot against St. Mary's players Omar Samhan, front, and Mickey McConnell in the West Coast Conference tournament championship game Monday, March 8, 2010, in Las Vegas. (Christopher Anderson / The Spokesman-Review)
Robert Sacre of Gonzaga can't find room to shoot against St. Mary's players Omar Samhan, front, and Mickey McConnell in the West Coast Conference tournament championship game Monday, March 8, 2010, in Las Vegas. (Christopher Anderson / The Spokesman-Review)

We got an early start flying out of Las Vegas and a late start on the day-after post. But we're home, welcomed by some wind and snow, and here's a recap of Saint Mary's 81-62 win over the Zags in the WCC title game.

Links: S-R gamer, John Blanchette column, Chris Anderson photos, San Francisco Chronicle gamer, Contra Costa Times here and here, A.P. gamer, Seattle Times column, Tacoma News Tribune gamer and Las Vegas Review-Journal gamer.

Read on.

--I’m certain there are enough notes, quotes, data, figures, numbers, information, stats, trends and analysis in the above links, but there are a few more things I wanted to get to that I couldn’t squeeze into my game story.

Much has been written and much has been said about Saint Mary’s center Omar Samhan, whose antics are usually somewhat entertaining but he seemed to cross the line into poor sportsmanship Monday. It started with his refusal to take part in the customary hand shake with the opponent at center court. Demetri Goodson was introduced and headed to the center circle. Samhan was introduced and met his teammates near the free-throw line. He looked over and caught Coach Randy Bennett’s eye, who quickly looked away. Samhan stayed put and glared either toward Goodson or the GU bench (couldn’t tell from my angle) in a hackneyed move that you’ve seen in every boxing press conference stare-down.

Goodson was left hanging, but he didn’t seem particularly bothered.

“I didn’t even recognize it until somebody told me he didn’t come out,” Goodson said. “I wish I would have known that because I wouldn’t have walked out there.”

Samhan was obviously amped up, which he demonstrated when he began a conversation with Robert Sacre prior to the opening tip, and chatted up the officials when a re-jump was called. Samhan was a non-factor in the first half (0 of 5, three rebounds), but he finished the game with nine points, seven rebounds and six blocks.

Along the way, he picked up a deserved technical for shoving Sacre as the teams were headed to the sidelines for a timeout.

“Gonzaga is like a bunch of sharks. They see blood in the water and it’s over. You’re done,” Samhan said. “So the second (Sacre) told me to bring it on, I couldn’t back down at that point. I told coach ‘B’ (Bennett), ‘My bad, I’m sorry, but we had to take the technical on that one. We couldn’t play scared.”

--Gonzaga scored 89 and 80 points against the Gaels in previous matchups. They scored 62 on Monday That’s the third lowest point total of the season (41 vs. Duke, 61 vs. Cincinnati). My game story incorrectly stated it was the second lowest.

Gonzaga’s shooting percentages were 54.2 and 58.7 in regular-season games; 42.9 percent Monday. Elias Harris torched SMC for 31 points in Moraga and 19 in Spokane. He had 8 points on 3-of-13 shooting in the title game and took several off-balance/forced shots trying to maneuver in a crowded lane. Sacre was very active. He had seven points and seven rebounds, essentially battling Samhan to a standstill.

“We did a nice job on Samhan,” GU coach Mark Few said. “Rob did a nice job in there. They were letting things go inside. Rob and Elias didn’t quite deliver through some pretty good contact.”

Harris struggled against Ben Allen and SMC’s help defense.

“We did a good job on him in the first half up there but in the second half he got loose in transition,” Gaels coach Randy Bennett said. “He gets a lot of his stuff in transition and offensive boards. We tried to negate that and make him score over a hand.

“Ben is big enough and strong enough that Elias can’t bully his way to the hoop.”

Posts/forwards on both teams didn’t get to the foul line very often.

“The refs let us play a little bit,” Allen said. “We don’t mind that at all. That simulates what do in practice.”

--Manny Arop is out for the season with a broken foot, suffered in Sunday’s semifinals. Arop has been the most consistent contributor off Gonzaga’s bench, particularly over the last month. In two meetings with Saint Mary’s, however, Arop played just nine minutes, scoring five points and grabbing four rebounds.

--Stats of note: Bouldin and Gray combined for 30 points, including 15-of-15 free-throw shooting. … Sacre had five of GU’s 14 turnovers. The Bulldogs only had nine assists, Gray and Bouldin each with three, but they combined for seven turnovers. … Saint Mary’s made 17 of 25 field goal attempts in the second half. …. McConnell played 39 minutes and committed one turnover. … Samhan failed to crack double figures for the first time this season.

Kelly Olynyk came off the bench to score five of his points in a one-minute span early in the second half. The first bucket came after a nice pump-fake and drive to the basket. He then canned a 3-pointer on a feed from Bouldin. Olynyk finished with seven points. … Will Foster missed both of his free throw attempts. He’s 4 of 24 for the season. Goodson was 0 of 3 at the stripe, dropping him to 54.3 percent on the season.

The Gaels put together a dominant tournament. They had Portland down 20-plus in the second half en route to a 69-55 win and they thumped Gonzaga by 19.


Bennett on SCU’s approach on offense: “It started with taking care of the ball. They like the game to get going, that team is built for speed. We made them guard us for a while before we attacked.”

Gray on GU’s defense: “I think there was a lot of just penetration and kick out to the 3. That’s where a lot of their shots coming from. We were getting caught off the screens and getting beat off the dribble and putting our back line in a tough spot. And they were hitting.”

Bouldin on losing in the title game: “It hurts, just coming out and not doing what we set out to do.”

Few on McConnell: “We were a little bit casual with him early and that got him going. He really had a heck of a game.”

Goodson on what the loss did to GU’s chances of playing in Spokane in the NCAAs: “I think that the only way we could have stayed in Spokane was if we won this. We have to learn from this. We play our best games after losses.”

Allen on why he was open for so many 3s: “It’s probably because I went 0 of 4 from the 3-point line last night (vs. Portland).”

Bennett on whether he talked to McConnell after his 0-fer in Spokane: “I thought he’d play well tonight. I talked to the team after that game. I thought we played on our heels at Gonzaga. We had to get that straight. We had to be really tough and gritty and a little mean and we weren’t (in Spokane). I think they understood.”


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Jim Meehan
Jim Meehan's coverage areas include Gonzaga University men's basketball, Spokane Shock football, golf and volleyball. He also contributes to the SportsLink Blog.

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