No. 1 Gonzaga overcomes slow start, beats Saint Mary’s 73-59


MORAGA, Calif. (AP) – McKeon Pavilion is usually one of Gonzaga’s toughest conference stops, so it seemed odd without all those loud fans.

Corey Kispert had 17 points and five rebounds and No.1 Gonzaga overcame a slow start with a push to complete the first half, retiring late to beat rival Saint Mary 73-59 on Saturday night for his 18th victory consecutive over the last two seasons. .

A magnitude 4.5 earthquake in the South Bay rocked the gymnasium early in the second half. The game continued uninterrupted with the always smiling cardboard cutouts in the folding chairs behind the benches.

“It’s really difficult. This place is usually very busy, ”said Gonzaga forward Drew Timme. “I think we need to do a better job creating our own energy.”

Joel Ayayi scored 16 points for the Bulldogs (14-0, 5-0 West Coast Conference). They used a 21-5 run in the 11:17 first-half final to build a 32-25 advantage – and the Gaels only made one of their last 16 shots to close the half-time.

Saint Mary’s shot 56-48 on Dan Fotu’s layup with 9:01 left before another decisive explosion from Gonzaga, this time 8-0. The Zags shot 53.8%.

Fotu scored 15 points and Logan Johnson added 12 for the cold-shooting Gaels (9-5, 0-3). They shot 34.9%.

Gonzaga’s stifling defense pushed the Gaels up to 30 seconds early, but Saint Mary’s made 4 of their first 5 3-point downs.

“It’s not a pretty game for us, and Saint Mary’s deserves a lot of credit for it,” said Gonzaga coach Mark Few. “I thought they did a good job bringing the fight to us, especially the first few minutes and then we kind of settled down.”

The Zags are tied with Winthrop for the country’s longest winning streak. They ran the nation’s best unbeaten streak at home with 46 against Pepperdine on Thursday night.

Saint Mary’s goalie Tommy Kuhse had 10 points on 4 of 12 shots with seven assists. The shorthanded Gaels brought energy to both ends early but couldn’t keep it going for 40 minutes.

“You have to generate points against these guys because they are going to score,” Saint Mary coach Randy Bennett said. “We’ve been pretty good defensively this year. We only played seven guys, you can run out of juice a bit. It was our best chance to win, so we went with it. … You have to score more. I don’t think you can hope to keep them under 60 years. “

Johnson drew a big charge against Ayayi at 13:31 of the first half as Saint Mary’s took a 12-7 lead and the Zags started 2 of 7 from the floor. Kuhse took a charge late in the first period after an offensive foul by Jalen Suggs, who scored 14 points.


Gonzaga: The Zags made three quick steals and ended up with six, two from Anton Watson. … Senior forward Kispert walked away from an eighth-place win in program history for most career wins – he’s 109-10. … Aaron Cook has scored eight points and is six of 900 for his career. … The Zags have won 19 of the last 23 games in the series and are 48-11 against the Gaels under the 22nd year coach. … They won on January 23 in a row.

Saint Mary’s: Bennett is anxiously awaiting G / F Alex Ducas’ return perhaps at the end of the month after a foot injury that sidelined him in the last seven games. … F Kyle Bowen fouled with 4:01 to go. … After the Gaels’ defense held BYU 1 for 10 of 3 points Thursday – 0 of 6 in the second half – the Zags were held 4 of 11 deep. … Saint Mary made just 10 turnovers for the second straight game.


Gonzaga: welcomes the Pacific next Saturday.

Saint Mary’s: At …

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