Day after Loyola Marymount

Gonzaga forward Elias Harris goes under Loyola Marymount forward Godwin Okonji. (Tyler Tjomsland)

LMU, overwhelmed in an 88-43 loss to Gonzaga in Los Angeles on Jan. 31, looked like a different team Saturday. The Lions battled throughout, but GU still claimed a 74-55 win.

The day-after LMU links: S-R gamer, S-R photos, AP and Kitsap Sun.

More below.


—A fair amount of the post-game discussion centered on where No. 6 Gonzaga might end up when Monday’s polls are released. My guess is No. 4, possibly No. 3. Duke will probably rise to No. 1 and ex-No. 1 Indiana might only drop one spot if it handles Ohio State on the road Sunday (Hoosiers were leading by double figures in the second half). Then it’s GU or No. 8 Miami, which looked nearly unstoppable in thumping North Carolina. No. 2 Florida and No. 3 Michigan should drop a couple of spots, but figure to remain in the top 5 or 6.

The last few weeks have been filled with upsets in the top 10.

“It helps you stay focused and also lets you know that anybody can do down at any time so you have to be on your game,” Kelly Olynyk said. “We can’t be worried about what other people do. We have to take care of our own business.”

—Anthony Ireland was a one-man show for LMU, piling up 15 points in each half. He only had one assist, but that was mainly because his cohorts couldn’t connect on shots. Ireland left to a warm ovation from the crowd with 1 minute remaining. I’ve covered Gonzaga since the 2007-08 season and I can’t recall a similar reaction to an opposing player.

Of course, usually when an opposing player torches GU (Illinois’ Brandon Paul, San Diego State’s Billy White, Michigan State’s Draymond Green, Portland State’s Jeremiah Dominguez) at the Kennel it means the Zags are losing, not winning by 19.

“I think that’s a statement toward Gonzaga’s fans and how knowledgeable they are,” LMU coach Max Good said. “A couple of people said they haven’t seen that much here. Anthony has respect for people all over the league. He’s a class person. He’s a very good player. It’s our responsibility to get a couple more players like him.”

Good, always first-team All-Interview, had the line of the night when talking about Ireland’s lack of assists: “What did Moses Malone use to say, I want to thank my teammates for missing so many shots so I could get so many rebounds.”

—Mike Hart was back in the starting lineup at the ‘3’ after Drew Barham handled the previous start. GU has tried four starters at ‘3.’ If you know anything about coach Mark Few, it’s that he doesn’t get too jazzed up about who starts, but rather who plays the majority of the minutes and who is on the floor at crunch time.

There was no crunch time Saturday as GU methodically pulled away from LMU, but the guess here is Hart, who played 18 minutes, started so he could match up defensively against 6-7 Ashley Hamilton, LMU’s second-best scorer at 13.8 ppg. Hamilton missed his first nine shots. He finished 3 of 16 and scored seven points. The Lions went with a bigger lineup – 6-8 Godwin Okonji started; 6-1 Bruce English started vs. GU in L.A. – probably to put more size on Olynyk and Elias Harris.

Kyle Dranginis had a nice stretch in the second half and remained on the floor. He played 14 of his 16 minutes in the closing half. He finished with five points and four boards.

“We find out usually the day of the game or the day before,” said Hart, who had six rebounds. “It doesn’t matter to any of us. We’re all happy contributing anyway we can.”

—Olynyk was credited with four assists, but probably would have had double that if he’d been given credit for passes that led to a teammate being fouled under the basket. (Yes, that’s another subtle plea to change the way assists are credited). He assisted on all three of Dower’s field goals.

“We play really well together,” Olynyk said. “I have no qualms about throwing him the ball at any time.”

 

STATS OF NOTE

—Guy Landry Edi was the first ‘3’ off the bench. He played 4 minutes and set a nice wing screen that led to a GU bucket.

—At one point, Ireland was 4 of 7. He went 4 of 13 the rest of the way, but still did some damage by getting to the FT line (12 of 14).

—Kevin Pangos made 4 of 7 3s, the rest of the team 1 of 8.

—Pangos is at 50 percent (25 of 50) on 3s in WCC play.

—Pangos’ four turnovers equaled his season high.

—GU has made at least 50 percent of its shots in 11 games. The Zags are at 50.7 for the season.

—The Zags have attempted 157 more free throws than their opponents.

—LMU (29.8) became the third GU foe to shoot below 30 percent (West Virginia and LMU nine days ago).

 

QUOTEBOOK

Olynyk on Ireland: “He’s quick, shoots it, gets to the (free-throw) line, gets into your body and can split gaps and you also have to respect his passing ability. He’s a great player.”

Few: “It was a good, solid methodical win. We played great half-court defense. We battled them on the glass, that’s a really athletic, tough team that rebounds the ball extremely well. They send five guys (to the glass). Our bigs, especially Elias (Harris), set that mentality, making sure their aggressiveness hurt them a little bit.”

Pangos on working inside-out: “When we’re doing that we’re hard to stop because the other team has to kind of pick their poison – if we get it in to those big guys and they’re so dominant and then have us on the 3-point line and we can knock down the shots.”

Olynyk on LMU: “They played really hard, tough, physical, that’s what we expected of them down there. They’re a tough team when they play like that.”

Pangos on GU’s 11 turnovers in first half: “Some bad passes, some just rushed plays. I was trying to be aggressive and I turned it over a couple times, but it happens and we fixed it in the second half.”

Also in this section

Zags stay unbeaten in WCC

Gonzaga won its sixth consecutive game, taking down visiting Loyola Marymount 74-55 on Saturday …


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