MALIBU, Calif. – The Gonzaga Bulldogs have lost five men’s basketball games this season. Their game-after responses to those four setbacks were wins by margins of 35 (IPFW), 39 (Augustana), 42 (Eastern Washington) and 27 (Portland).
The Bulldogs’ resolve will be tested again tonight by Pepperdine, 48 hours after falling to Loyola Marymount 74-66. Gonzaga didn’t shoot particularly well, didn’t defend particularly well and didn’t register high on the hustle meter.
“They just came out and played harder than we did,” junior guard Steven Gray said. “And it showed.”
Gonzaga made just seven of its last 34 shots spanning the final 23 minutes. The Bulldogs’ 27-point second half was their lowest in a half since scoring 24 against Duke on Dec. 19.
“We got some really good looks. We got some point-blankers,” head coach Mark Few said. “We just missed shots, open 3s. We had a bunch of things around the basket that we usually bang in and we didn’t.”
LMU piled up 19 assists on 27 field goals. After committing six turnovers in the first nine minutes, the Lions had just four over the final 31 minutes.
With a win tonight, the 13th-ranked Bulldogs (21-5, 9-2) would have an opportunity to lock up their 10th consecutive WCC title at home against Santa Clara on Thursday. Pepperdine (7-20, 3-8) has dropped eight straight games, a slide that began with a 91-84 loss to Gonzaga last month. Guard Keion Bell scored 37 points, the most by a GU opponent in the six-year history of the McCarthey Athletic Center.
Portland routed the Waves 83-62 on Thursday. Pepperdine will be without sophomore guard Dane Suttle Jr., who is out for the season with an ankle injury.
Gonzaga has won 17 straight in the series.