Gonzaga’s Senior Night comes with a catch this season.
The third-ranked Bulldogs close the regular-season curtain Saturday against Saint Mary’s at the McCarthey Athletic Center, but fans could have two more chances to watch Gonzaga without leaving town.
The Zags are on track to earn an all-expenses-paid, 2-mile road trip to the Spokane Arena for the opening weekend of the NCAA Tournament.
But first things first. Gonzaga (28-2, 14-1 West Coast Conference) wants to put a bow on a stellar regular season with a win over the Gaels (24-6, 11-4) in the final home game for seniors Killian Tillie, Admon Gilder and Ryan Woolridge.
“I hope we can just win,” head coach Mark Few said. “That’s the best way we can celebrate Senior Night.”
The Zags have won two straight after dropping three consecutive Senior Night contests from 2015-17, including a 2016 loss to the Gaels.
Gonzaga overpowered Saint Mary’s 90-60 three weeks ago in Moraga, California, the worst home loss in head coach Randy Bennett’s 19 seasons there. The Zags shot 74% while building a 53-28 halftime lead.
Forwards Filip Petrusev, Drew Timme and Tillie combined for 36 points in the first half. They finished 22 of 29 from the field and scored 57 points.
“We played really good,” Petrusev said. “We’re going to try to match the intensity and energy we had down there, especially since it lacked a little bit against BYU (in a loss last Saturday). Just play with fire and energy.”
Both teams have ample motivation in the rematch. Gonzaga is trying to add another quality win to its résumé as it chases the top seed in the West. Saint Mary’s is No. 31 in Friday’s NET rankings, just outside the top 30 required for a Quadrant 1 game.
The Gaels are still in the running for the second seed at the WCC Tournament and a bye into the semifinals: They need a win over Gonzaga and a Pepperdine victory over BYU. If Saint Mary’s and BYU both finish 12-4, the Gaels win the tiebreaker by virtue of a 2-0 record against San Francisco.
Saint Mary’s is third nationally in 3-point percentage (40.4); GU is eighth (38.7). The Zags are first in scoring (87.8), second in field-goal percentage (51.3). The Gaels, who prefer a slower tempo, rank 53rd in scoring (75.9) and 11th in field-goal percentage (48.3).
Senior guard Jordan Ford (20.9) and junior forward Malik Fitts (17.9) supply just over half of the team’s 75.9 points.
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