Gonzaga-San Diego Preview
After playing its way back into the Top 25, Gonzaga is in danger of dropping out again.
Looking to avoid their first three-game road skid in 13 seasons Saturday night, the No. 25 Bulldogs face a San Diego team that gave them trouble in Spokane a month ago.
Gonzaga (23-5, 13-2) already secured at least a share of its 13th West Coast Conference regular-season title in the last 14 years, but blew an opportunity to clinch outright by losing 73-65 at BYU on Thursday. The result snapped a nine-game league winning streak for the Bulldogs, who were back in the Top 25 after falling out following a 60-54 loss at then-No. 24 Memphis on Feb. 8.
A 49.7-percent shooting team that also ranks among the national leaders by hitting 39.8 percent of its 3-point attempts, Gonzaga shot 40.7 percent from the field and 4 of 18 from beyond the arc against the Cougars.
"It hurt,” said Bulldogs coach Mark Few, whose team shot 57.4 percent and 10 of 22 from 3 during an 84-69 home victory over BYU on Jan. 25.
Sam Dower scored 14 and Kevin Pangos had 13 for Gonzaga, which also was outrebounded 41-32 and committed a season-high 16 turnovers that resulted in 18 points for the Cougars.
"You just can’t do that on the road," Few said. "You cannot do that on the road anywhere."
Gonzaga has not lost three straight road games since a four-game skid in 2000-01.
If the Bulldogs are to avoid doing so again Saturday, Few likely needs Pangos to get back on track. The team’s leading scorer at 15.1 points per game, Pangos is averaging 11.6 on 32.4 percent shooting in the last seven games.
He was held to 11 against San Diego (15-14, 6-10) on Jan. 23, but ended his team’s 2-minute-plus scoreless stretch with an up-and-under layup with 1:27 left to help Gonzaga pull out a 59-56 home win.
Though that was Gonzaga’s 11th straight win and 33rd in its past 35 against the Toreros, it took the last two at San Diego by a combined 10 points. Former Bulldog Elias Harris blocked a shot in the final seconds to help Gonzaga hold on for a 65-63 victory in last season’s road meeting.
Winners of two in a row following a season-high four-game losing streak, the Toreros snapped a three-game home skid with a 61-59 victory over Portland on Thursday. Duda Sanadze scored 15 points, including a basket with 59 seconds to go that put San Diego ahead for good
"It’s not great on my heart or my blood pressure, but it’s a win and it’s a credit to our guys," San Diego coach and former Gonzaga assistant Bill Grier said.
Toreros guard Johnny Dee averages a team-leading 17.1 points, and scored 26 on 8-of-10 shooting at Gonzaga last month. He had 21 at home against the Bulldogs last season.
With a 65-64 home defeat against then-No. 24 San Diego State on Dec. 5, San Diego has dropped 10 straight against ranked opponents since a 76-64 victory over No. 25 Oklahoma on Nov. 25, 2009.