The Gonzaga Bulldogs finished up a tough road trip with a perfect 3-0 record after beating the then-No. 22 Oklahoma State Cowboys, Pepperdine Waves and Santa Clara Broncos. Now they return home to face a familiar foe and perpetual thorn in their sides over the last few seasons in the Saint Mary’s Gaels and their star guard Matthew Dellavedova. If Gonzaga hopes to keep their winning streak going, they will need to contain the Australian senior.
For years, the Zags owned Saint Mary’s, winning 28 of 31 from 1999-2010. But since the arrival of Dellavedova, the Gaels have given it right back, winning four of the last seven meetings, including a 78-74 overtime win last March to steal the West Coast Conference tournament championship. The Gaels also snatched the 2011-12 regular-season crown, snapping the Bulldogs’ run of 11 straight outright or shared titles.
And that’s largely thanks to Dellavedova. The senior guard has been spectacular this season, averaging 17.4 points and a league-high 6.7 assists per game. Over the last five games against the Zags, he’s put up a ridiculous 22.6 points per game. The Zags, including star forward Elias Harris, understand what it will take to slow down the Gaels:
“It starts with (Dellavedova) and it ends with him. He’s their main guy … and the way he reads the court and finds his teammates is incredible. It’s really a load. It’s hard, even as a team, to guard him. It’s going to be a great challenge.”
Gonzaga will be helped by the continued build of momentum they’ve accumulated during their 15-1 start. They’re averaging just over 80 points per game and will return home after their successful road trip where they’ve won 18 straight games against unranked opponents with an average margin of victory of 23.1 points.
The Kennel hasn’t been kind to the Gaels, either. While Saint Mary’s has been able to win more than they’ve lost over the last three seasons, the trip to Spokane is historically horrific for them. While they did pull off a 73-71 upset back on January 27, 2011, the Gaels are just 1-16 over their last 17 trips to the Lilac City.
Gonzaga will have its hands full of the Gaels as Dellavedova tries to continue being the biggest pain in Mark Few‘s conference schedule. Can the Zags contain the Australian star and continue their home dominance over Sain Mary’s? Or will Dellavedova and the Gaels prove to be the kryptonite to Gonzaga’s Superman run through the WCC? Chime in below!