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Gonzaga

at

St Mary's

College Basketball Pick

2/11/17

This is likely Gonzaga’s last real test of the regular season before probably having to play St. Mary’s again in the WCC tournament championship. This is the only game that’s stopping the Bulldogs from having an undefeated campaign and while the first meeting was rather easy, it’s hard to see this one going that way.

St. Mary’s is not a free win by any means, no matter how the last game went. The Gaels have a good enough resume that even without a win against Gonzaga, should still make the NCAA tournament. They won at Dayton and Stanford earlier in the year and took care of BYU in the first meeting. A recent 71-27 win at San Diego showed just how good they can be, even if the opponent was San Diego.

The first meeting between these teams was close early on and St. Mary’s actually led 32-31 five minutes to go before half. But an 11-0 Gonzaga run was all that was needed for the home team to leave with an easy win. That said, the 79-56 score line is a bit off base as it was 60-52 with less than 10 minutes to go. The main difference was that the Gaels could not stop anything Gonzaga did offensively. The Zags scored 1.34 points per possession and were 33-of-51 from the field. The bad part for St. Mary’s is that it wasn't just one player as Gonzaga had five players reach at least nine points. St. Mary’s was balanced as well, but weren’t nearly as efficient at 23-of-58 from the field.

Maybe the biggest thing in that first game was that the Gaels held their own on the glass, scraping up 11 offensive boards. That could be the case in this one as St. Mary’s leads the ACC in offensive rebounding percentage, but more importantly also in three-point percentage. The Gaels struggled to get open looks in that first game, but that could be the first thing that gives them a chance in this game. Calvin Hermanson is their best shooter, but Emmett Naar, Joe Rahon and Evan Fitzner can all shoot from deep. Another factor for St. Mary’s will be trying to get Jock Landale more touches after only scoring 10 points in that first game. Landale leads the Gaels with 16.9 points and 9.5 boards per game, but Gonzaga bottled him up for the majority of that first game.

Of course, St. Mary’s struggles happened for a reason in that first loss. Przemek Karnowski is a beast down low for the Zags and freshman Zach Collins off the bench means Landale never has an easy matchup. The problem for St. Mary’s will be stopping Nigel Williams-Goss because he did whatever he wanted in that first game, scoring 19 points to go with six assists. And when Gonzaga has been in a tough situation at any point this season, Williams-Goss has come through. He dropped 33 points, 7 boards and four assists in the win at BYU a week ago. However, he did miss last weekend’s game against Santa Clara due to an ankle injury, so that will be something to monitor throughout the week.

This will undoubtedly be a tighter game than the first time around, especially if Williams-Goss is limited at all. But if Landale struggles again against Karnowski and Collins down low, the advantage goes to the Bulldogs on the road. That said, winning this game would be incredibly without Williams-Goss. As for the St. Mary’s backers, the Gaels have won every conference home game by at least 12 points this season. The McKeon Pavilion is a small arena, but the place will be going crazy on Saturday night.

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