STOCKTON, Calif. – The venues have changed, but not Gonzaga’s goal.
The Bulldogs (23-6, 13-3) hit the road for the second-straight week trying to secure an outright WCC regular-season championship. They failed twice last week, losing to BYU and San Diego. Their next chance comes tonight against Pacific (14-13, 5-11) at the Spanos Center.
“We have to forget about those (last) two games,” sophomore center Przemek Karnowski said, “and keep moving forward.”
The Bulldogs also can clinch with one loss each by San Francisco and BYU, but they clearly don’t want to rely on anyone else.
“We’ll have to play very well, people don’t understand that all the time,” coach Mark Few said. “It’s on the road so we can’t be turning the ball over down the stretch. Our defense has to be better than it was in the first half and the beginning of the second half against San Diego. Especially on the road, we have to be able to count on our defense. We have to take care of the ball and step up and make shots.”
Pacific, which starts five seniors, knocked off visiting BYU two weeks ago and also defeated fifth-place Pepperdine by 10 at home.
The Tigers dropped two close games to third-place San Francisco and lost twice by a combined 14 points to fourth-place Saint Mary’s.
Gonzaga led the first meeting by 24 less than 14 minutes into the first half.
Pacific closed within 58-50 in the second half before the Bulldogs went on an 11-2 run. Gonzaga made 10 3-pointers, four by Drew Barham and three by Kevin Pangos.
“They get up and down and they run just an unbelievable myriad of plays, hundreds of them with common themes or concepts,” Few said. “We’ve been here before where we’ve lost two in a row. They just happen to be near the end of the year.”