Recap and highlights: No. 2 Gonzaga holds off late comeback to beat No. 22 Saint Mary’s 74-58 in WCC’s first ranked matchup
Feb. 12, 2022 Updated Sat., Feb. 12, 2022 at 10:29 p.m.
Two prospective Zag recruits, Jared McCain, center left, (in Yankees sweatshirt) and Dusty Stromer, right, watch the Zags beat St. Mary’s Saturday, Feb. 12, 2022 in the McCarthey Athletic Center at Gonzaga in Spokane, Washington. (Jesse Tinsley/The Spokesman-Review)Buy a print of this photo
Gonzaga dominated in stretches and fended off a late comeback to win its most contentious West Coast Conference game of the season over Saint Mary’s 74-58 on Saturday in Spokane.
The No. 2 Bulldogs (21-2, 10-0 WCC) picked up their 14th straight win behind Drew Timme’s 25 points on 11 of 16 shooting.
The No. 22 Gaels (20-6, 8-3) pulled within nine with 3:08 remaining, but two 3-pointers from Julian Strawther and a layup from Andrew Nembhard ended any hope for a comeback.
The 16-point margin of victory matched Gonzaga’s Jan. 20 win over San Francisco for the lowest in conference play.
Nembhard had one of its best performances of the season, tallying 16 points, eight rebounds and seven assists. Meanwhile, Chet Holmgren continued his stellar streak of games with 11 points, 13 rebounds and three blocks.
The Zags led by as many as 21 points with 15:42 remaining in the second half, but didn’t make a field goal 5:58 minutes, until Strawther’s late 3-pointer ended the drought.
Gonzaga relied almost exclusively on its starters, getting only six bench points. Still, the win should be enough to push the Bulldogs over Auburn to be ranked No. 1 in the AP Top 25 poll, after the Tigers lost earlier in the week.
15:35 - GU 4, SMC 2: Slow going early, as the first seven attempts from the field miss before Saint Mary’s opens the scoring on a basket from Tass.
Timme answers on the other end and Nembhard adds the only other made points at the U16 media timeout.
The Zags are 2 of 7 from the field, while the Gaels are 1 of 6. Both teams have missed two 3-point attempts.
10:53 - SMC 12, GU 11: Saint Mary’s takes the lead at the U12 media timeout, as Tass scores the Gaels’ last basket on a sky hook.
SMC is on a 6-0 run and the Zags have made 1 of their last 7 attempts, coming on a Holmgren ally-oop over 2:00 of game time ago.
7:48 - GU 17, SMC 14: Gonzaga retakes the lead and Nembhard adds to it with a crossover-to-dunk finish.
Nembhard has four points with four rebound and two assists to add to Timme’s team-high eight points on 4 of 5 shooting.
The Gaels are controlling the pace though, playing tenacious defense and holding the Zags to 8 of 20 shooting. Neither team has made a 3-pointer.
3:41 - GU 28, SMC 19: Gonzaga creates some separation going into the final media timeout, as its been the Timme and Nembhard show through most of the first half.
Timme has 13 points on 6 of 8 shooting and the Zags’ lone 3-pointer, as Nembhard adds 8 points, five rebounds and three assists.
Gonzaga is up to 44% shooting from the field, while Saint Mary’s continues to struggle at 32%.
Gonzaga’s slow start was followed with a strong finish to the first half.
After missing five of its first six attempts from the field, the Zags closed the period making six of its last seven to take a 13-point lead over Saint Mary’s.
The Gaels set the pace in the beginning, but the Bulldogs settled in and outscored SMC 23-11 in the final 10 minutes.
Drew Timme is continuing his dominance over the Gaels with 15 points on 7 of 9 shooting and the Zags’ lone 3-pointer. Chet Holmgren has been a factor on the defensive end with three blocks and a steal to go with his six points and six rebounds.
SMC is shooting 28.6% from the field and is 1 of 8 on 3-pointers, while Gonzaga is 50% and 1 of 6.
17:42 - GU 47, SMC 26: Strawther makes a 3-pointer in transition to give the Zags an 8-0 run over the last minute and Saint Mary’s takes a timeout.
Timme is up to 20 points, opening the period with an and-1, and the Gaels will be searching for answers on defense to slow the Zags down.
14:37 - GU 51, SMC 32: Gonzaga still rolling at the U16 media timeout.
The Zags’ starters have been its only players to score, as Timme leads with 22 and Holmgren adds 11.
11:36 - GU 55, SMC 40: The Gaels trim the Zags’ lead to 13, but Timme makes a layup while being fouled at the U12 media timeout. He will have a chance to bring his scoring high to 25 at the free throw line when play resumes.
Saint Mary’s have made 5 of its last 7 shots from the field.
8:01 - GU 65, SMC 50: Both teams trade baskets in the highest scoring offensive burst of the game.
Nembhard is up to 14 points with 7 rebounds and 6 assists, while Saint Mary’s guard Kuhse has 16 points with 3 assists and 3 rebounds.
5:10 - GU 65, SMC 54: Gonzaga calls a timeout as Tass misses an easy look to cut the lead to single digits. The Zags haven’t scored in the last 3:36 minutes.
After one of the most grueling nonconference schedules in the country, it’s been nearly two months since Gonzaga faced a ranked opponent.
That changes tonight when the No. 2 Bulldogs (20-2, 9-0 West Coast) host No. 22 Saint Mary’s at 7 p.m. on ESPN2, looking to defend its 13-game win streak.
The Gaels (20-5, 8-2) will likely drop out of the AP Top 25 poll without a win in the Kennel, after losing to Santa Clara 77-72 on Tuesday. Saint Mary’s had been on a 7-game win streak before the loss, but bounced back with a thumping 86-57 win over San Diego on Thursday.
The Gaels will be favored to finish WCC runner-up, as BYU has fallen off. Gonzaga is a 16 1/2 point favorite according to Vegas Insider Consensus.
Gonzaga and Saint Mary’s have often met for the WCC Championship the first week of March.
That was the case the last time the Gaels beat the Zags 60-47 in the 2019 WCC Tournament Championship. Since then, Gonzaga has won six games over Saint Mary’s, including two by over 20 points last year and a 78-55 win in the WCC Semifinal.
The Zags go into Saturday’s game with the longest home winning streak in the country. The team that last beat Gonzaga in the Kennel? Who else, but Saint Mary’s 74-71 on Jan. 18, 2018.
Gonzaga forward Johnathan Williams (3) tries to strip a rebound from Saint Mary’s center Evan Fitzner (21) during the first half of a NCAA college basketball game, Thursday, Jan. 18, 2018, in the McCarthey Athletic Center. (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)Buy a print of this photo
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