Day after Saint Mary’s
After seeing the sites in Las Vegas for a few days, I get to see the sites up and down the West Coast on my way home (Las Vegas to LAX to Phoenix to Spokane). Hardly alone, with numerous Zag fans on the same schedule. Thanks Southwest!
I’m actually glad to be on board. My cab driver missed the airport exit. We were chatting away and he zipped right on by. He caught the next exit and must have seen me eyeing the meter as it climbed into the mid $30s. He adjusted it accordingly.
So on to the day-after Saint Mary’s post. Here are the links for the GU men’s win over Saint Mary’s: S-R gamer, Blanchette column, Mulvany photos. Here are the links for the GU women’s victory over San Diego: S-R gamer, Mulvany photos. It was an impressive showing by the GU women, in particular Taelor Karr. She was fighting an ailing lower back and watching her walk gingerly on the sidelines during Sunday's practice brought back bad memories of my lower-back issues years ago. I thought she might try to play, but wouldn't have imagined she could have the impact she did with 14 points and six assists against USD. As coach Kelly Graves said, "Tough kid."
More on GU men below.
—By the looks of it, Gonzaga added some more folks to the bandwagon last night by manhandling Saint Mary’s. Most of the articles I’ve read, from locals to nationals, indicate that Gonzaga is bound for No. 1 seed.
Gaels’ coach Randy Bennett, who was absolutely effusive in his praise of GU afterward, was asked if he’d be surprised if Gonzaga wasn’t a top seed?
“How could they not be?” he replied.
Mark Few wouldn’t go that far, but he stated GU’s case in simple terms.
“We’ve controlled everything that’s been put before us and done and amazing job, which is all we can do,” Few said. “Watch us and look at what we’ve done, look at our results.”
—The key, as always against Saint Mary’s, was defending Matthew Dellavedova. Other than the first half of the Moraga game when Delly went off for 19 points, GU had a pretty good handle on the star guard for most of the other five halves.
Dellavedova had a rough tournament, making 3 of 20 attempts –though his clutch 3-pointer in the closing seconds of regulation gave SMC the opportunity to beat San Diego in overtime in the semifinals. He made one shot against GU, a trademark Delly move where he split two defenders on a high-post screen, got into the lane and hit a 12-foot floater over Elias Harris that needed a kind bounce to fall through the net.
“Just the same thing they did the other two games,” Dellavedova said. "Trapped on ball (screens), played pretty aggressive, so the play is to throw it out.”
That he did, often with the ball finding an open shooter on Delly’s pass or the ensuing one. He finished with seven assists and probably would have had a couple more if the Gaels’ had knocked down some open looks. That is one of SMC’s shortcomings this season, a lack of perimeter threats.
Dellavedova had two points, a season low, and he three turnovers.
And what the Zags did very well, other than a few hiccups, was take away the roller to the basket, where Brad Waldow and Mitchell Young get the majority of their baskets. They combined for just 14 points.
“This is a much better defensive team than some of the others we’ve had,” Few said.
STATS OF NOTE
—Saint Mary’s only had nine turnovers, but Gonzaga turned them into 17 points. They were the type of points that energized the crowd – Olynyk’s steal from Delly and dunk in the first half, Harris’ layup that gave GU a 16-point lead early in the second half.
—Mike Hart didn’t take a shot, but he equaled Dellavedova’s 2 points. Hart made a pair of free throws. Hart and Bell applied most of the defensive attention on Dellavedova.
—If not for a cold streak long after the issue was decided, Gonzaga would have probably shot in the 60-percent range.
—GU attempted only nine 3s, reflective of its inside-out approach. SMC put up 27 3-pointers, making 7.
—Holt’s 8-of-14 shooting lifted SMC to 35.7 percent. The rest of the Gaels made 28.6 percent.
—Harris passed Matt Santangelo for fourth on GU’s all-time scoring list in Saturday’s win. Now with 1,840 points, he’s within 47 of No. 3 Adam Morrison.
—Productive stat line by David Stockton: Lone field goal a key 3 on Harris’ feed late in the first half, three rebounds, three assists, three steals, no turnovers in 21 minutes.
Harris, on GU’s complete effort: “It was perfect timing. It’s just that mind set, you come out and do what you gotta do.”
Bennett: “We didn’t play well, we didn’t play well at this tournament. Sometimes playing well comes down to making some shots. We shot poorly from 3 tonight and the other night, and we’re usually a good 3-point shooting team. I think it’s that simple. We didn’t shoot well enough to stay close in this game. Credit them defensively. We took care of the ball and moved it and did a pretty good job of making them make an extra rotation defensively, but you’re going to have to finish some of those if you shot 27 3s. We don’t have that margin of error against that team.”
Harris: “It feels so good to win my senior year. After they beat us last year in the (WCC Tournament). I remembered that feeling and I didn’t want it to happen again.”