WCC’s best meet as No. 2 Gonzaga visits Saint Mary’s

NCAA Basketball
This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

The cream of the West Coast Conference over the past decade will meet for the first time this season when the second-ranked Gonzaga Bulldogs travel to Moraga, Calif., to face the Saint Mary’s Gaels on Saturday.

Since the 2002-2003 season, either the Bulldogs or the Gaels has captured the West Coast Conference regular-season title. And either Gonzaga or Saint Mary’s has been the WCC tournament winner since 2009.

The Bulldogs will have revenge on their minds after losing to the Gaels in the conference championship game in March at Las Vegas. Saint Mary’s held the Bulldogs, who were ranked No. 1 at the time, to 47 points, their lowest total of the season.

Both teams are coming off wins on Thursday night. Gonzaga (24-1, 10-0 West Coast Conference) defeated Loyola Marymount 85-67 for its 16th straight victory and 36th consecutive home win. Saint Mary’s (20-5, 7-3) edged San Diego, 66-60.

Filip Petrusev led the Bulldogs’ win with 21 points. Gonzaga once again was without Killian Tillie (injured ankle), and once again, freshman Drew Timme stepped up and scored 17 points, grabbed eight rebounds and had three steals.

“Drew’s doing a great job of delivering inside. That’s probably three or four games in a row where he’s done a nice job,” coach Mark Few told The Spokesman-Review after the game. “And he’s getting better defensively, so that’s a really good sign for us. We need another interior defender to help shore that up, especially when Killian’s not healthy.”

Tillie took part in Thursday’s shootaround and could be available for Saturday’s matchup between the conference’s top two teams.

In the Gaels’ win, Jordan Ford scored a game-high 19 points while dishing out a season-best six assists. The senior came into the game leading the nation in total minutes and played all 40 on Thursday.

Ford sealed the win by beating the shot clock to put the Gaels up by four with 30 seconds left. His heroics left quite an impression on San Diego coach Sam Scholl.

“He’s outstanding, and I thought we did a real good job defending him and he still got 19,” Scholl told the San Diego Union Tribune. “He just makes big plays. (He’s) a winner, tremendous heart. I love the passion he plays with.”

Ford’s play, as well as Tanner Krebs’, should be no surprise to Few. Ford scored a game-high 17 points in the WCC title win over Gonzaga in March, while Krebs scored 13 and had three steals. Against the Toreros on Thursday, Krebs scored 10 points.

Few will also have to find a way to stop Malik Fitts, who recorded his seventh double-double of the season with 17 points and a career-high 14 rebounds on Thursday.

But it’s not like the Bulldogs don’t have the firepower to match the Gaels, even without Tillie. Corey Kispert scored 11 points and recorded five steals, and Admon Gilder came off the bench and scored 17 points.

“Admon was an offensive spark, but he was really good defensively,” Few said. “We put him on (Eli) Scott a lot and he’s shown to be a good matchup on some of these hybrid forwards we’ve been dealing with that are big, strong and athletic, but maybe a little too quick for our bigs.”

–Field Level Media

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.