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Ready or not, Gonzaga’s Senior Night arrives for Josh Perkins and company

UPDATED: Fri., Feb. 22, 2019, 7:06 p.m.

It was possibly the only time this season Gonzaga has attempted to run a stall play.

Josh Perkins wasn’t having any Senior Night discussion last Saturday inside the locker room at the Jenny Craig Pavilion after a Zags road victory over San Diego.

“We gotta talk next week,” he deferred, shaking his head in disbelief. “It’s finally here I guess. It’s bittersweet. I don’t know if I’ll believe it until Saturday.”

A few minutes earlier, sophomore wing Zach Norvell Jr. called for a timeout at an adjacent locker.

“Man, uhh, I don’t really want to talk about that right now,” Norvell said. “That’s my guy.”

The day has arrived for Perkins, Jeremy Jones, Geno Crandall and walk-on Jack Beach as the second-ranked Zags close their home schedule Saturday against BYU.

The Cougars won three straight at the McCarthey Athletic Center from 2015-17, including playing the role of Senior Night party-crashers in 2015 and 2017 against two of the best teams in GU history.

“Love it, love it,” Perkins said of BYU being the Senior Night opponent. “They’ve come in here and beat us a couple times (on) Senior Night. It’s time to give them one.”

Perkins has handed out 670 career assists, surpassing Matt Santangelo as the program’s all-time leader during Thursday’s win. He’s been part of 127 career wins, second in program history to Przemek Karnowski’s NCAA record 137.

Perkins received a flood of social media congratulations after breaking Santangelo’s record, including dozens of messages from current and former teammates.

Perkins was appreciative of the fans’ reception and Santangelo’s on-court embrace shortly after the final buzzer. He spoke of the record in much the same light as Senior Night. He says he’s living in the moment and there will be time for reflection down the road.

“We’re checking off things on our goal sheet,” he said. “As long as we’re doing that, I can’t put myself in front of that. I’m sure (Senior Night) will hit me walking down seeing my folks out there with flowers.”

Crandall’s stay in Spokane has been a short one. The grad transfer from North Dakota got a late start, arriving in mid-October after completing his degree requirements. He missed nine nonconference games with a broken hand.

“I feel like I just touched down in Spokane,” Crandall said. “It’s been amazing, all I could have hoped for.”

The Minneapolis native said his mom, a few of her friends, a few of his friends and – he hopes – his younger brother will be on hand. Family members visited over Christmas break but haven’t seen the Kennel’s game-day environment.

Perkins holds the assists record, but Crandall probably is the team leader in good-natured barbs. He rarely misses a chance to jab Perkins and other teammates.

“We’re like brothers. I just like poking fun at him,” said Crandall, a solid defender who averages 5.2 points. “You can ask anybody and I’m always the one who has something to say or a joke to say about everybody. I like to keep it light, keep it fun.”

Jones has been with the Zags nearly as long as Perkins, a fifth-year senior. The San Antonio native has spent four seasons, one sitting out after transferring from Rice, in Spokane. The versatile defender has made his biggest impact this season, averaging 3.4 points and 3.4 rebounds in 14.4 minutes per game.

Beach leads the walk-ons in minutes (45) and has hit 4 of 9 3-pointers. He’s listed as a redshirt junior but will go through Senior Night ceremonies.

“Jeremy’s really having a heck of a senior year helping us,” coach Mark Few said. “Geno has just been a fantastic addition as a teammate. You can’t understate that. He’s just such a good person, it’s helped us tremendously on the floor and in the locker room. Jack has been a great practice player and a great guy to stick in there and make some 3s at end of the game.”

Gonzaga guard Josh Perkins passes the ball during the second half against Pepperdine on Thursday. (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)
Gonzaga guard Josh Perkins passes the ball during the second half against Pepperdine on Thursday. (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)

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