If there’s one thing that has consistently defined the Zags this season, it’s the numbers.
It’s safe to say the numbers have enhanced the whole Gonzaga experience this year and have kept the fans coming back to the Kennel week after week.
Near the end of Gonzaga’s 90-55 rout of Santa Clara on Saturday night, the students were already chanting “Number one, number one,” a reminder to the rest of the nation watching the Zags trounce the Broncos that Gonzaga proves it deserved it’s No. 1 spots in the Associated Press Top 25 and USA Today Coaches’ Poll.
With several minutes left in the game, fans in the front of the student section had already brought out the “24-0” sign to reflect Gonzaga’s new record, the only perfect record left in Division I.
One fan even counted down the days since the last time Gonzaga lost a game – 316 – and put it up on a poster.
But not every number can keep rolling.
Before Saturday night, it had been 264 minutes and 31 seconds since the Bulldogs had trailed an opponent, the last time coming against Saint Mary’s on Jan. 14. In that game, Saint Mary’s Evan Fitzner sunk a 3 halfway through the first half to give the Gaels the lead. It took more than five minutes for the Zags to pull away from the Gaels for good.
Saturday night didn’t start much differently.
The Zags took the lead right out of the gates with a jumper by Jordan Mathews 20 seconds after tipoff. Santa Clara tied the score with a 2-pointer on the Broncos’ first possession, but Gonzaga’s Przemek Karnowski broke the tie with a layup.
After Johnathan Williams missed a layup on the Zags’ next possession, Santa Clara’s Nate Kratch picked up the rebound and went down the court to shoot a 3-pointer. That shot put the Broncos up 5-4, and capped Gonzaga’s streak to 266 minutes, 36 seconds.
A 3-pointer by Gonzaga’s Bryan Alberts with 10:23 left until halftime gave the lead back to the Zags, 17-16, and Gonzaga never looked back.
Despite a 35-point margin in the final score, the struggle to get going against Santa Clara, which is currently fifth place in the West Coast Conference, wasn’t quite what the Kennel had expected for their top-ranked Bulldogs. But head coach Mark few wasn’t too worried about his team trailing for the first time in almost three weeks. For Few, the brief loss of the lead only meant it was time to step up defensively.
“(It) started out to be kind of a grinder,” Few said. “We did a pretty nice job after the first media timeout of guarding the 3-point line and getting out on their shooters, really making them work for baskets and that got our offense going.”
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