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7:00 PM PT8:00 PM MT9:00 PM CT10:00 PM ET3:00 PM GMT11:00 PM 北京时间8:00 PM MST10:00 PM EST, Feb 9, 2019
McCarthey Athletic Center, Spokane, Washington  Attendance: 6,000

No. 4 Gonzaga invades Saint Mary's with perfect WCC mark intact

The West Coast Conference has gotten tougher this year, although it's been hard for some to see the proof in light of No. 4 Gonzaga's continued dominance.

Usual challengers Saint Mary's and BYU have been joined in the next tier by San Francisco, San Diego and Loyola Marymount. But none have been able to seriously threaten the Bulldogs this year, save for San Francisco's 96-83 loss on Jan. 12 in which it was tied with three minutes left before Gonzaga hit the figurative X button during a game-ending 15-2 run.

The Zags had far less trouble with the Dons Thursday night in a 92-62 blowout in Spokane, and try their hand with Saint Mary's Saturday night at McCarthey Athletic Center in a nationally-televised WCC matchup.

Gonzaga got a huge outing Thursday night from forward Brandon Clarke, who finished with 20 points, 16 rebounds and five blocked shots. Guard Zach Norvell ripped off 13 straight points late in the first half to break open a three-point game.

"We got stagnant on offense," Zags coach Mark Few said of the first half. "We made some real, real silly turnovers in the first half. We needed those shots to get us going."

Once Gonzaga (22-2, 9-0) gets going, few teams anywhere can stop it. It leads Division I in scoring (91.3 ppg), field goal percentage (52.6) and assist-turnover ratio (1.8). The Zags are also fifth in assists with 18.6 per game and 25th in free throw percentage at 75.6.

Japanese forward Rui Hachimura has been efficient, leading the team in scoring at 20.3 ppg and canning 59.5 percent from the field. Clarke is hitting for 16.5 ppg and converting 68.5 percent from the field, while Norvell (15.8) and senior point guard Josh Perkins (10.8) also score in double figures.

"Our offense is really, really hard to guard," Clarke said.

And that doesn't even include the likes of Killian Tillie, who missed the season's first two months with injury but averaged 12.9 ppg last year, or Filip Petrusev, who in just 12 minutes per game scores 7 ppg. It doesn't seem unfair to wonder if Gonzaga's second team could contend in the WCC.

They'll be Saint Mary's problem Saturday night. The Gaels (15-9, 6-3) are coming off a 78-66 win Thursday night over Pacific behind 6-1 guard Jordan Ford, who pumped in 28 points on just 14 shot attempts to continue a breakout season.

Ford went from bit player as a freshman (2.3 ppg) to role player as a sophomore (11.1 ppg) to a star this year (22.1 ppg). Even more impressive is his efficiency. Ford is bidding to finish the year as a 50-40-80 guy, and is presently at 50.5 percent from the field, 43.8 percent on 3s and 81 percent at the foul line.

The emergence of 6-8 forward Malik Fitts has taken pressure off Ford. The South Florida transfer is pumping in 16.2 ppg, torching San Francisco for 30 points on February 2 in an 86-80 win.

"He's really improved through the year," Saint Mary's coach Randy Bennett told the East Bay Times after the San Francisco game. "He's got a good brain for the game. He's a hard matchup."

--Field Level Media

Updated February 8, 2019

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