Saint Mary’s Gaels Lose Badly To Gonzaga Bulldogs In WCC Semifinal


March 10, 2014; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Gonzaga Bulldogs center Przemek Karnowski (24) shoots against Saint Mary’s Gaels center Matt Hodgson (33) during the first half in the semifinals of the West Coast Conference tournament at Orleans Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

The Saint Mary’s Gaels went into Monday night’s West Coast Conference tournament semifinal seeking redemption against the top-seeded Gonzaga Bulldogs. In their last meeting in Moraga on March 1, the Bulldogs crushed the Gaels 75-47.

Monday night was far from redemption; the Gaels were crushed again, 70-54, at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas. It snaps a string of five straight appearances in the WCC tournament final for Saint Mary’s, while Gonzaga reaches the final for the 17th straight year.

The game started off slowly for both teams as the first basket was scored at 17:35 by Sam Dower of Gonzaga. Saint Mary’s had their first score at 16:33 off a Brad Waldow layup, bringing the score to 4-2.

In the early stages of the game, the Gaels had just four points with four turnovers. They were once again struggling against the Zags defense. The Gaels just couldn’t match up with the Bulldogs no matter how hard they tried.

Off a Randy Bennett timeout with 8:21 left in the half, the Gaels fell down 18-7. The Gaels kept the turnovers even with the points, 7-7.

The Gaels seemed like they were standing flat-footed, waiting for something to happen. They were just passive in the first half and needed some aggression on the offense.

St. Mary’s FINALLY decided to go with size and for the first time all season played Waldow and Matt Hodgson at the same time.  The problem was that this strategy was short-lived.

The Gaels finished the half trailing 31-20. They were in dire need of a new strategy if they wanted to somehow get the W.

For the half the Gaels went 9-for-23 (39.1 percent) from the floor and were shut down, 0-for-3, from behind the arc. They also struggled from the line going just 2-for-7 (28.6 percent) The Gaels just had no answer for Bower defensively. Offensively, Beau Levesque and Stephen Holt combined for just two points.

The Bulldogs went 10-for-22 (45.5 percent) from the floor and were 3-for-7 (42.9 percent) from 3.

In the second half the Hodgson-Waldow duo started. This matched the Zags height and gave new life to the team. The Gaels were able to cut the lead to six, but the Gaels fell back down. Then a smaller lineup entered as the Zags were on a 7-0 run.

The Gaels just could not hit from outside. They could not overcome what seemed to be a Gonzaga block this season. Nothing on the positive for the Gael offense or defense was executed.

The Gaels season ends off a game they wish they could have fared better in.  They are better than they actually played. It just wasn’t shown tonight.

On the positive, the Gaels end their season with nothing to be ashamed about. They had a 22-11 year. They are hoping for and frankly deserve an NIT bid. Gonzaga advances to the West Coast Conference final, which will be played Tuesday night.

The Gaels finished the night 18-for-50 (36.0 percent) from the floor.  They ended dismally from 3, going 2-for-8 (25.0 percent). Brad Waldow led the Gaels with 14. Stephen Holt had 13. Kerry Carter had 11.

For the Bulldogs, they went 22-for-49 (44.9 percent) from the floor. They were 5-for-14 (35.7 percent) from 3-point land. Leading the way for the Bulldogs was David Stockton with 21.