Back with my day-after post from Saturday’s 71-66 loss to visiting UCLA.
--Another game scoring in the 60s, another game with a shooting percentage in the low 40s, another game with key turnovers, another game with spotty backcourt play, another frustrating final few minutes.
The Zags have been here, done that. After their latest defeat, it’s a pattern they’d like to see end.
“We have to make plays at the end of these games,” coach Mark Few said. “We have to get stops and then we have to make plays. That’s how you win. That’s how all of our other teams have won. That’s how anybody wins, especially close games.”
That continues to elude the Zags, who have had opportunities in the closing minutes against Texas A&M, Arizona and now UCLA.
“They had us on ropes there, I was proud of our guys for fighting back,” forward Kyle Wiltjer said. “That’s a game you could lose by double digits when they’re playing that well. But there were a couple of key plays where we didn’t get what we wanted or we didn’t get stops.”
--The guard line continues to struggle to find its way. Eric McClellan supplied some much-needed offense (14 points and three assists) but he also had three turnovers and forced a shot in transition in the latter stages. Josh Perkins had 10 points and five rebounds, but his turnover in the final minute led to a UCLA basket.
“(Perkins) made some excellent decisions, he got downhill, got a 2-foot stop, two nice little teardrops, then he falls down on the last one,” Few said. “You just don’t quite ever know what you’re going to get. Hopefully we can start knowing what we’re going to get every time.”
Silas Melson and Kyle Dranginis, who had four assists, are in deep shooting slumps.
Since making arguably GU’s biggest bucket of the season, a put-back against UConn in the Bahamas, Dranginis has gone 3 of 20 from the field, 0 of 9 on 3s. He made his first shot last night for his first points since the WSU game, but missed his last five.
Melson, who replaced Dranginis in the starting lineup, is 0 of 12 from the field in his last three games, 0 for 6 from 3 in his last four games. He hasn’t scored since WSU game.
“They weren’t guarding some people,” Few said. “You have to step up and make it but at same time we have to be disciplined to maybe turn the first one down and flip it from side to side a couple times and see if can get an even better shot instead of just settling because they’re not guarding me.
“Right now, some of these guys aren’t shooting it well.”
STATS OF NOTE
--Gonzaga guards are 37 of 115 on 3-pointers (32.1 percent). Bryan Alberts is 7 of 12.
--GU continues to put very little foul pressure on opponents. The Zags have attempted 152 free throws, opponents 156. They had just 13 free throws last night, UCLA attempted 18.
--The Zags have more turnovers (131) than assists (122).
--Wiltjer (20 points, eight rebounds) and Sabonis (18 points, eight boards) continue to carry the offense.
--As mentioned Melson made his first start but he only played 14 minutes. Dranginis logged 32 minutes.
McClellan: “UCLA is really talented, you can see why they upset Kentucky. They’re aggressive at all five spots. Parker is a load down there. We knew he was going to be a problem.”
Few on Karnowski: “I don’t know if he’s our best player but he’s our most valuable player. He changes our total defensive plan, with a guy like (Tony) Parker and some of these bigs we’ve been facing. Offensively he’s a load that people have to deal with and he’s probably our best passer. But he’s not in. We’re still in position to win some of these games, we just have to step up and make some plays.”
UCLA’s Isaac Hamilton: “Whenever we get the ball inside out, it really helps our offense. They had to double down in the post, which kind of left guys open on the perimeter. It spreads the court and keeps them in scramble mode.”