The basketball game and the events surrounding it have meaning.
Two days after an emotional victory over No. 16 Saint Mary’s, Gonzaga faces third-place Loyola Marymount tonight at 5 at the McCarthey Athletic Center as part of the annual Coaches vs. Cancer Day. The Bulldogs (19-4, 9-2 WCC) sit in second place. LMU (16-9, 9-3) is just in front of BYU (20-6, 8-3).
Gonzaga stayed in WCC title contention by handing Saint Mary’s its first conference loss. Elias Harris and Gary Bell Jr. combined for 35 points as the Bulldogs edged LMU 62-58 a month ago in Los Angeles, but the Lions are 6-0 in WCC road games.
“Loyola is playing as good as anybody in this league,” Bulldogs coach Mark Few said. “I sound like a broken record, but they have the most athletic talent in the league and probably the most gifted offensive players. They have four guys that can go get their shot at anytime.”
LMU made 10 3-pointers and shot 51 percent in Thursday’s 76-62 win at Portland. Forward Drew Viney, who makes 47.3 percent of his 3-point attempts and averages a team-high 15.7 points, led the Lions with 16 points. He was limited to six points by Gonzaga last month.
“It’s a big game,” Bell said. “We have to come out like we did against Saint Mary’s.”
LMU has won four straight and six of seven. The Lions haven’t defeated Gonzaga in Spokane since 1991.
“They’re a great team and a lot of people underestimate them,” Gonzaga guard Kevin Pangos said. “It’s going to be a fun one.”