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Undefeated Gonzaga men roll to another victory but lose rebounding battle

UPDATED: Sun., Jan. 22, 2017, 2:03 a.m.

Forward Zach Collins (32) was a bright spot for Gonzaga’s rebounding on Saturday, finishing with a team-high nine. (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)
Forward Zach Collins (32) was a bright spot for Gonzaga’s rebounding on Saturday, finishing with a team-high nine. (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)

Gonzaga might have stretched its record to 19-0 with another big win at the Kennel on Saturday night, but the Bulldogs lost on the glass.

In Gonzaga’s 73-52 rout of Portland, the Pilots pulled down 44 rebounds – 21 of them on the offensive side.

The Zags picked up 33 rebounds and only 10 were offensive boards.

“They pounded us,” Gonzaga coach Mark Few said. “Twenty-one offensive rebounds, that’s not good by us.”

Portland capitalized on those extra boards, piling up 19 second-chance points that kept the Pilots within reach of the No. 4 Zags well into the second half.

In 19 games this season, the Zags have outrebounded opponents by 6.4 per game. They averaged 40.1 boards and have allowed their opponents 34.4 rebounds.



    But the Bulldogs have consistently struggled with getting a second chance at a missed shot, averaging 10.5 offensive boards this season. After Saturday, their opponents average 12.3 offensive rebounds.

    “There were a lot of balls that were kind of going around. We were getting one hand on them instead of two, and we’re not just grabbing them … there was a lot 50/50 balls that we didn’t grab that we usually do,” freshman forward Zach Collins said. “I think that we’ve done a lot better job from the beginning of the season until now.”

    Gonzaga lost the rebounding battle to quite a few teams at the start of the season, including Bryant, Iowa State and Florida.

    Washington did the most damage on the glass with 29 offensive rebounds. Despite a 98-71 loss to Gonzaga on Dec. 7, the Huskies outrebounded the Zags 54-42.

    Three days later, Akron came to the McCarthey Athletic Center with its big man, Isaiah Johnson. The 6-foot-10, 290-pound center pulled down a game-high nine rebounds, with six offensive boards, helping the Zips top the Bulldogs on the glass 42-36. Akron also had 20 offensive boards and held GU to nine.

    Collins said the Zags noticed their weakness on the stat sheet early in the season and made some improvements through the rest of December.

    “We took it personal because we were getting called out about rebounding by everyone in the country, so we wanted to make sure we got that right,” said Collins, who led the Bulldogs with nine rebounds, and three offensive boards, on Saturday.

    In eight games following Akron, the Zags dominated on the glass and only allowed two teams win the battle in offensive rebounds – Tennessee (20-8) and Saint Mary’s (11-3).

    “We worked a lot on rebounding in practice, did a lot of rebounding drills. Coach (Few) held us accountable. He didn’t really accept not getting rebounds,” Collins said.

    After Saturday’s performance on boards, the Zags might need a refresher on those drills before they meet the Pilots for a makeup game in Portland on Monday. But Collins said Saturday was just a fluke.

    “This is the only lapse that we’ve had in a long time. Coach said, you know, they kind of out-toughed us,” Collins said. “We just had a mental lapse tonight.”

    The Spokesman-Review

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