College Basketball Game of the Week: No. 22 Saint Mary’s vs. No. 2 Gonzaga
The champions take on the hopeful contenders on Saturday in a clash between the West Coast Conference’s best.
No. 2 Gonzaga faces No. 22 Saint Mary’s in Spokane as the Gaels try and claw their way to the top of the conference.
Saint Mary’s, led by head coach Randy Bennett, is 20-5 on the season with only a few weeks until March.
The perennial powerhouse in Gonzaga is 20-2 and undefeated in conference play heading into the home game with Saint Mary’s.
The 2021 runner-up Bulldogs are the better team on paper, with Chet Holmgren, a potential lottery pick prospect, and Drew Timme leading the team.
Timme is Gonzaga’s leading scorer, averaging 17.4 points per game, followed by the freshman Holmgren who averages 14.6 points per game.
The Bulldogs have five players that average double figures in scoring.
Standing at seven feet tall, Holmgren is the team’s leader in rebounds, 3-point percentage and blocks per game, a category in which he ranks No. 4 in the entire country.
Saint Mary’s is not a team that has the star power like Gonzaga, but Bennett’s squad has been playing pretty good basketball in their respect.
Senior forward Matthias Tass is the team’s leading scorer, posting 12.8 points per game so far this season.
Tass also leads the team in rebounds per game, with 6.2, and blocks per game, with 0.8.
Guard Tommy Kuhse leads the Gaels in 3-point percentage as the sharpshooter has recorded a 45.1% mark in that stat.
Fellow guard Alex Ducas also makes his 3-point attempts over the 40% mark, hitting 40.9% of his attempts.
The Bulldogs head into the home game against the Gaels averaging 90.8 points per game, which is the best in the country by almost four points, while giving up 64.6 points on average.
Saint Mary’s is not anywhere near that mark, and not many teams are, as the underdogs score a collective average of 70.6 points per game.
However, they do have an advantage on defense, only allowing 59.2 points per game which is good for No. 8 in the nation.
Gonzaga, headed by coach Mark Few, is on a two-month winning streak that spans back until Dec. 4, when the Bulldogs fell to the hands of Alabama.
Saint Mary’s is coming into this contest following a 86-57 blowout win over San Diego after losing to Santa Clara on Tuesday.
In terms of talent and offensive firepower, Gonzaga heads into the meeting between the two schools as the clear favorite, especially since it's going to be at home for the No. 2 team in the country.
But don’t write off the Gaels yet as their stifling defense could slow the game down and keep Bennett’s squad within reach.
The two schools have not met this season, but Saturday’s losing team will have the opportunity to get revenge, as Saint Mary’s and Gonzaga will meet again on Feb. 26 to close out the regular season.
Zach Allen is a second-year majoring in digital and print journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org