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Stockton always at the ready for Zags

Gonzaga guard David Stockton (11) frequently comes off the bench. (Dean Hare / Fr158448 Ap)
Gonzaga guard David Stockton (11) frequently comes off the bench. (Dean Hare / Fr158448 Ap)

David Stockton’s job doesn’t come with set working hours.

He might be summoned from Gonzaga’s bench 4 minutes into the first half, like he was against Portland. He might not enter until 4 minutes into the second half, as was the case against Loyola Marymount. He played 11 seconds against Notre Dame, then a season-high 24 minutes against Lewis-Clark State in the next game.

“It’s something you learn from playing in this program,” said Stockton, a redshirt freshman point guard. “You have to be ready at all times, especially with this team. We have so many guys that can help us. You never know whose day it’s going to be. It could be yours.”

Gonzaga has received contributions from a variety of bench players, a key reason for its nine-game winning streak entering Thursday’s contest against Santa Clara.

“Some of it is based on defensive situations or what type of player we’re looking for on offense to mesh with the guys,” head coach Mark Few said. “I know it’s not easy for any of those guys. They all kind of bring specific roles they can do really well and a couple of other aspects they don’t do well at all. We’re trying to substitute situationally in those games and see how they function.”

Stockton’s last five games reflect his fluctuating minutes. He had a nice 8-minute stretch against Loyola Marymount, contributing three free throws and an assist as Gonzaga expanded a 39-37 lead to 61-50. He played 5 minutes versus Pepperdine. Against Portland, he had stints in each half, one in which GU widened its lead from two to nine, and another where the Pilots trimmed an eight-point deficit to five.

He played 14 minutes against Wake Forest and 11 against Oklahoma State. In the latter, he was on the floor 10 straight minutes as Gonzaga turned a 17-13 deficit into a 40-26 halftime lead, a spurt capped by Stockton’s 40-footer just before the buzzer. Few stayed with the same five, Stockton, Elias Harris, Manny Arop, Rob Sacre and Steven Gray, for that entire stretch. Oklahoma State made 11 substitutions trying to slow GU’s run.

“Every game you have to come expecting to go in,” said Arop, who has started seven games, but saw his season-high 34 minutes off the bench against Oklahoma State. “We play for one another. If you don’t come to play, you’re just letting the rest of the guys down.”

Stockton averages 10.4 minutes per game, and he’s willing to do just about anything to earn more.

“Taking charges and other stuff that a lot of other people don’t do is the only way I can get on the court,” he said.