No. 9 Gonzaga hosts mismatched Loyola Marymount

Order has been restored.

Gonzaga, which had been looking up at Saint Mary’s in the WCC standings since a Jan. 18 home loss to the Gaels, went into Moraga, Calif., on Saturday and put together perhaps its most complete effort of the season, dominating from gate to wire in a 78-65 victory.

The win propelled the Zags (23-4, 13-1 WCC) into a first-place tie with Saint Mary’s and a return to the Top 10 (they’re No. 9 this week) for the first time since they finished last season No. 2.

The Bulldogs return home this weekend for their final two home games of the season — against the conference’s bottom two teams.

Loyola Marymount (8-17, 3-11) comes to the McCarthey Athletic Center in Spokane, Wash., on Thursday, followed by last-place Pepperdine on Saturday.

The Lions, who enter the game off a win over the Waves, hung with the Zags for about five minutes of their first meeting before Gonzaga took over and cruised to an 85-66 victory in Los Angeles.

Loyola’s biggest problem in that matchup was containing 6-foot-9 Zags forward Johnathan Williams.

“He’s a tough matchup for everybody in the league because he can also stretch you,” Lions coach Mike Dunlap said after the senior put up 30 points — on 13-for-18 shooting — and grabbed 10 rebounds. “He’s an interesting guy. He can pound you on the boards and can hit a 3. He’s a pro and everybody knows it.”

In the Bulldogs’ win over Saint Mary’s, Williams did it on both ends of the floor, scoring 12 points and grabbing 11 rebounds and helping to hold Gaels star Jock Landale to only four field-goal attempts.

Gonzaga was quick to double-team the 6-foot-11 Aussie, limiting him to a season-low four points.

“We came (to double) as soon as he caught the ball,” Williams said, according to the (Spokane) Spokesman-Review. “Team effort. We all contributed to guarding him.”

In the first meeting, Landale was unstoppable. He made 12 of 15 shots and scored 26 points. He also had 12 rebounds and three assists as the Gaels were 8-for-13 from 3-point range.

On Saturday, they made only 5 of 20 from deep, and point guard Emmett Naar didn’t make his first basket until 16:30 remained.

“It was a heck of a defensive night,” senior guard Silas Melson said. “In the first half, (Naar) took like three layups it looked like he didn’t want to take. We were switching matchups, being aggressive with him.”

The Bulldogs also relied on their Gaels-killer, sophomore forward Rui Hachimura.

In two games against Saint Mary’s, Hachimura has made 21 of 30 shots and scored 44 points. He has also been versatile on the defensive end.

The 6-8, 225-pounder spent time guarding Landale and the 6-foot-1 Naar.

“Rui is probably our strongest player,” coach Mark Few said. “He can guard Landale and he can guard guys on the perimeter.

“That’s a valuable asset to have. And he was able then to stay with the assignments that come with both of those things, which in the past has been hard for him to adjust to.”

The win drew the Zags even with Saint Mary’s, although the Gaels would still have the top seed in the WCC Tournament. The conference uses the RPI (the Gaels are No. 33, Gonzaga 39) as the third tiebreaker.

The Bulldogs, though, have the tougher remaining schedule, finishing at fifth-place San Diego and third-place BYU. The Gaels’ four remaining foes are all in the bottom five spots in the conference.