SWX - Campers await Zags showdown with Saint Mary's - SWX Right Now-Sports for Spokane, CdA, Tri-Cities, WA

Gonzaga Basketball

Campers await Zags showdown with Saint Mary's

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Dozens of Zags fans camped outside McCarthey Athletic Center on Wednesday night (Photo: SWX) Dozens of Zags fans camped outside McCarthey Athletic Center on Wednesday night (Photo: SWX)

SPOKANE, Wash. - How big is Thursday's Gonzaga-Saint Mary's matchup?  Big enough that several dozen die-hard Zag fans spent the night in tents outside the McCarthey Athletic Center to make sure they got a seat for the game.

No. 16 Gonzaga tips off against first place Saint Mary's at 8 p.m. - live on ESPN2.   The Gaels boast a first-place standing in the West Coast Conference by nature of the fact they've played one more game than the Zags.  Both teams have one loss in conference play.  The Zags dropped a game to San Francisco, while Saint Mary's only league loss was to Gonzaga back in January.

"This is a very important part of the season," said freshman Mangisto Arop at a practice this week. "Everyone is feeling fatigue and it's really important that we stay mentally strong. There's no room for coming out flat or not bring enough energy like what happened at San Francisco. There's just no room for that anymore."

Gonzaga is hoping to pickup where they left off last week with strong wins over Portland at home and Memphis on the road.  A win Thursday would give the Bulldogs a 20th win for the 13th-straight season.  They've won at least 20 games in every season since 1997-98. Mark Few, who is in his 11th season as head coach of the Zags, has never won fewer than 23 games.

And don't forget about the women...
The Gonzaga women's team has a showdown of their own to talk about.  The No. 22 Bulldogs play at Saint Mary's on Thursday.  While Gonzaga has so far gone undefeated in conference play, the Gaels are nipping at their heals with an 8-1 record.  A win by the Zags would further solidify their lead in the WCC, while a loss would put them in a tie for first place.  Thursday's game tips off at 7 p.m. and can be heard on 1050 AM.

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