The only undefeated team remaining in the West Coast Conference, the 12th-ranked Gonzaga Bulldogs put their perfect record on the line on Saturday evening, as they host the Pacific Tigers in non- conference action at the McCarthey Athletic Center in Spokane.
Gonzaga has barely been challenged to this point, winning all but one game by double digits and most of them going away in fact. Already the team has scored at least 80 points five times and eclipsed the 100-point mark twice, the latest coming two days ago when the Bulldogs blew the doors off Lewis-Clark State in a lopsided 104-57 final.
As for the Tigers, they've actually faced tougher competition, going up against Fresno State, Xavier and Saint Mary's-CA, that last one turning into a 76-66 win for Pacific on Nov. 23. Unfortunately, the Tigers saw a brief two- game win streak come to an end on Sunday when they were trounced by California in a 78-58 decision during the DirecTV Classic in Anaheim.
The Bulldogs have won two of the previous three meetings with Pacific, although the most recent contest went to the Tigers in a 70-60 final. Unfortunately, that latest matchup was back during our nation's bicentennial.
The Tigers were paced by Ross Rivera who scored 13 points, followed by Colin Beatty who netted 10 on 5-of-6 shooting from the floor last weekend, but that wasn't nearly enough as the team tried to compete with a very strong California squad during the DirecTV Classic Championship at Anaheim Convention Center Arena. Unfortunately, the other three starters combined to shoot just 3-of-20 from the field in the outing. Pacific turned the ball over a mere eight times, but the squad also shot just 34.4 percent from the floor in the meeting. Lorenzo McCloud, one of those starters who was stymied by the Golden Bears, continues to lead the team in scoring with his 11.7 ppg, thanks to his 23-of-30 showing at the free-throw line. Rivera checks in with 10.2 ppg as a 54.0 percent shooter, but for someone who is playing almost 24 minutes per game, shouldn't Rivera have more than just a single assist at this juncture?
With Elias Harris and Gary Bell taking a day off on Thursday, the Bulldogs still had plenty of fire power to blow away Lewis-Clark with ease. Gonzaga lit up the scoreboard with 69.7 percent accuracy from the floor in the first half and 64.2 percent overall thanks to Kyle Dranginis who came off the bench to hit 12-of-16 from the field on his way to 30 points, his first-ever double- digit scoring effort. Przemek Karnowski added 16 points in a reserve role and David Stockton 13, as well as seven assists which matched Dranginis for the game high. Sam Dower dropped in 13 points, Drew Barham 11 and Kelly Olynyk 11 points to go along with 10 rebounds for his first double-double. Despite watching from the bench, Harris remains the top scorer and rebounder for the Bulldogs with 15.7 points and 9.2 rebounds per outing. The team is shooting a healthy 54.2 percent from the field and 41.2 percent out on the perimeter, en route to 85.3 ppg, which is one of the highest marks in the country.