Preview: Gonzaga vs. St. Marys

Gonzaga- St Mary’s renew their rivalry

On Thursday night Gonzaga and St Mary’s will once again lock horns in what is expected to be another classic. The race for first place is on Thursday evening, as the winner of this game will be in sole possession of first in the WCC standings. Each team is coming into the game at 6-1 in conference play and a lot will be riding on this game for both teams. For Gonzaga, it’s a chance to continue their winning ways on the road, as well as secure a solid win versus their rival. St. Mary’s on the other hand is desperately seeking a quality win for their NCAA tournament resume, and they would love to get a win against no other than the team that has given them headaches over the past few seasons.

The keys for the game are simple, for Gonzaga it’s defending the three point line like they have been in conference play. Gonzaga is first in the WCC in three point field goal defense, while St. Mary’s leads the WCC in percentage of makes from behind the three point arc. If Gonzaga can defend for 40 minutes and limit the Gaels high flying offense which averages over 78 points a game, then the Bulldogs will have a chance to win this game in a hostile environment. For the Gaels to win the game, it starts with stopping what perhaps is the best 1-2 punch in the WCC in forwards Kyle Wiltjer and Domantas Sabonis. Both players will be a handful for St Mary’s to try and stop for the full game, if the Gaels can make someone else on Gonzaga beat them like one of Gonzaga’s guards, then they will have a great chance to win the game. The Bulldogs are no pushover on offense either though, as they average over 80 points per game on the season. This game may very well come down to who has the ball on the final possession.

Coming into the game, the players to watch will be Gonzaga’s Kyle Wiltjer, who is the leading scorer for the Bulldogs at 22.4 points per game this season, and Domantas Sabonis who is averaging a double- double this season at 18 points and 11 rebounds a game. Emmett Naar is the player to watch for St Mary’s as he leads the Gaels with 13.8 points per game.

This game will be close from start to finish, as these two rivals have had some great games in the past. Expect both teams to be ready to go in this one, as both the Gaels and the Bulldogs need this win in the worst way. St Mary’s is looking to have better success against Gonzaga this year however. It was Gonzaga who dominated this rivalry last season as they won both meetings with the Gaels by double digits.

The Zags won at home 68-47 and at the Gaels 70-60 last season and St. Mary’s will certainly have revenge on their minds when the Bulldogs come to Moraga Thursday evening. The student section will be rocking and the fans will be going crazy come Thursday night in a battle of the top two teams in the WCC. Gonzaga and St. Mary’s is a game you won’t want to miss, so get ready for another fight.

Greg Twarozek

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