Few laments turnovers as Gonzaga prepares for Pacific

After a week off for Christmas, Gonzaga gets down to the business of winning another West Coast Conference crown.

The 20th-ranked Bulldogs, who have won or shared the title 18 times in the past 20 years, meet Pacific on Thursday in Spokane, Wash., in the conference opener for both teams.

Both the Zags and Tigers enter the game off a loss.

Turnovers, which have been a problem for Gonzaga (10-3) this season, contributed to the subpar offensive performance in a 72-70 defeat at San Diego State a week ago.

Point guard Josh Perkins committed six of the Zags’ 16 turnovers against the Aztecs.

“We’ve just got guys that can’t quite figure that out, and it’s our veterans,” Bulldogs coach Mark Few said of the turnovers, according to the (Spokane, Wash.) Spokesman-Review. “And until they want to figure that out and put a little governor on some of their passes and decisions, it’s going to continue to hurt us.”

Senior guard Silas Melson blamed the problem on going for “home runs” too often instead of “singles.”

“If you go out and try to hit home runs, you might find yourself down 11-0 in the first few minutes,” he told the paper.

The Zags did trail 11-0 3 1/2 minutes in and 22-10 later in the first half before closing with a 13-2 run before the break.

The Bulldogs’ quest for another WCC crown begins against a Pacific team that is coming off a 104-65 blowout loss to No. 3 Arizona State.

Tigers head coach Damon Stoudamire wants to see more passing from his team.

“We just don’t share the ball collectively enough,” Stoudamire told The Spokesman-Review. “I got to figure that out over break. There are some things I am thinking about. We are holding on to the ball one pass too long or one dribble too long.

“When you watch ASU play, whether they are passing or whether they are dribbling, if they are dribbling they are going downhill. They are not playing sideline to sideline. That is one of the things for us offensively, and then the fact that, honestly, we have to make shots. You have to hit jump shots. You have to keep the defense honest.”

The Tigers (5-8) have four transfers on their roster, including Roberto Gallinat, who leads the team with 13.7 points per game, and former Oregon guard Kendall Small, who is averaging 9.5 points and 3.2 assists.

“I just feel like we have to lock in a little bit more and avoid those mental lapses,” Small, a sophomore, told the Stockton (Calif.) Record. “When we get to our first true road game against Gonzaga we’re going to give them a fight, and we’ll be right there.”

Pacific will need to sort out those lapses quickly.

The Tigers face a Gonzaga team that hasn’t lost a conference opener in 21 years, as well as Saint Mary’s and BYU — both of whom are 11-2 — in their first four WCC games.

The Zags host Santa Clara on Saturday.