Yup, we're starting a little slow this Sunday morning, just like the Pacific Tigers were slow out of the gates Saturday night.
Gonzaga built a huge early lead, weathered a Pacific comeback and cruised to an 86-64 win, capping a busy four-games-in-eight-days stretch.
More below in my day-after post.
—Gonzaga follows its recent busy stretch with a slower-paced week. GU plays at Portland on Thursday, its only game this week, before heading to the LA area the following week for Pepperdine and LMU.
“That’ll be nice,” David Stockton said.
That’s good for Kevin Pangos (turf toe) and Sam Dower Jr. (lower back). Dower showed improvement from Thursday to Saturday. He was stronger posting up and battling for rebounding position. He played 20 minutes and was productive (13 points, 7 boards).
“Obviously we needed him,” coach Mark Few said. “They played a little more with two traditional bigs, they’re a physical rebounding team so we needed to play two bigs a little more than we have in the past.”
Dower said he’s “getting there. I’m still not where I want to be, but it’s better than where it was. It’s not bothering me as much when I do play.”
Dower believes with some rest this week he’ll be back to 100 percent by Thursday.
—Another solid night for Przemek Karnowski, other than making just 5 of 15 free throws. He’s rebounding and defending at a high level, blocking shots and generally staying out of foul trouble. He drew oohs and aahs from the crowd with a nifty pump-fake, right-hand finish Saturday.
“He has to trust that, guys are leaning on his right shoulder,” Few said. “He can do it, he works on it all the time and when he finally does it, it’s ‘Whoa.’ ”
Said Barham: “He’s been a force.”
Said Pacific coach Ron Verlin: “Karnowski is a giant in there and he’s tough to handle. I had every guy with four fouls. Every time I turned around I had a guy with four fouls. We’re trying to do our work early and front the post and we just couldn’t get around him. Dower’s obviously a big one. Their post guys definitely outplayed our post guys, that’s for sure.”
—The Zags were wildly efficient offensively, making 13 of 17 second-half shots (76.5%) and 27 of 39 for the game (69.2). They were 10 of 13 on 3s (76.9%).
“I just think we have a lot of weapons,” Stockton said, “a lot of confident guys, good post play and good guard play. When we move the ball things open up more.”
All eight Zags that played scored at least four points. Five different Zags made 3s.
“We were making shots, that always helps,” Few said. “We were moving it, spreading it around. We had an inside game. About the only thing we didn’t do well is shoot free throws and a lot of people missed them, and we had that one really bad stretch with a couple of bad turnovers.”
STATS OF NOTE
—Gonzaga was in the bonus with 14:09 left in the first half and the double bonus with 9:50 left. Both teams were in the bonus with over 9 minutes remaining in the second half.
—Gonzaga started out 6 of 6 FG before Pangos missed a 3 with 15:40 left. GU led 19-5 at the time.
—Gerard Coleman made his first 3-pointer of the season. He was 0 of 4 in the first 15 games.
—Stockton’s 3, about the closest thing to a dagger in that it boosted Gonzaga’s lead to 76-59 with 6 minutes left, was his first 3 in seven games. He had missed eight in a row.
—GU has four players shooting above 40% on 3s. Pangos leads the way with 49 3s and a shooting percentage of 48. Barham has 33 3s and he’s making 47.8%. Gary Bell Jr. has 30 3s and a 47.6%. Kyle Dranginis has made 17 3s and 40.5% from distance.
—Gonzaga’s 86 points was it most since scoring 91 vs. Arkansas in Maui on Nov. 27. The Zags hadn’t scored 80 points since a road win over West Virginia on Dec. 10.
—Pangos’ assist-to-turnover ratio took a hit. He had five turnovers and two assists, but he still leads the team with an impressive 2.95 assists-to-turnover ratio. He was at 3.71 before Saturday, which led the WCC.
—Gonzaga’s second-leading rebounder in WCC games? That would be Pangos at 5.5.
Verlin: “Give them a lot of credit. They were challenging our shots. They’re big, they’re long. They had us out of sync and we looked a little tentative and nervous about shooting the ball in here. Maybe a little intimidated by them and their crowd. I’d like to think not.”
Few on overcoming injuries, sickness, no Kennel Club, in the last eight days: “It’s flat crowds, no energy in the building, we had to do it on our own (with) key guys out. I’m proud of those guys that hadn’t got a lot of run so far, like Angel (Nunez). Gerard was a real spark for us, Ryan Edwards, we needed every one of them.”
Barham on eight-day stretch: “Every time you turned around another person was hurt or sick. It seemed like every day someone else knew they had to step up. It’s been a real test of character for our team and we know in crunch time people will step up when we need them to.”
Dower on the offense: “Guys let the game come to them. We weren’t forcing too many crazy shots. We were just running plays and shooting good team shots, knocking down 3s and getting it into the post.”
Few on Barham: “He’s seeing a big rim right now and he’s picking his spots when he needs to shoot or move it.”
Verlin on foul trouble: “We were in foul trouble all night. We had a great preseason by driving guys to the basket and getting hand checks. It seems like it’s gone the other way on us. Every time we touch somebody it’s a foul. I’m a little disappointed in the consistency. Monday night we played Saint Mary’s at home and everything was a foul. We go to Portland, nothing’s a foul. We come here and it’s pretty much back to touch again. The consistency in officiating – we’ve got to adjust to that better.”