The Gonzaga Bulldogs have been paying attention. They’ve watched as teams like the No. 1 Indiana Hoosiers, No. 2 Florida Gators, No. 3 Michigan Wolverines and No. 5 Kansas Jayhawks have stumbled to upset losses against seemingly overmatched opponents. That’s why Mark Few is making sure his team focuses on their fundamentals as they close out the season strong.
The Zags improved to 10-0 in West Coast Conference play after a strong 74-55 performance against the Loyola Marymount Lions in Spokane. LMU played much better than their first matchup against Gonzaga this season, when they were blown out of their home gym by 45 points. Even with a better game, however, the Lions were unable to hang with the superior front court of the Zags.
Few said his team’s success was due to getting back to attacking on the offensive end of the court from the inside out. Kelly Olynyk and Elias Harris were unstoppable on the inside, combining for 36 points as they dominated in the paint. That presence down low opened up the perimeter game for guard Kevin Pangos, who knocked in 20 points of his own.
Their offensive balance was predicated by great team defense. The Zags held LMU to just 29.8 percent shooting from the field, and just 22 percent from the field in the first half as they built a 36-25 lead at the break. They played defense for the duration of the shot clock and forced tough shots for the Lions and then limited second-chance opportunities by dominating the boards, out-rebounding LMU 38-23.
Gonzaga has gotten back to their fundamental attack of playing great defense and attacking teams inside-out on offense. They have refocused their game on locking down opposing teams and running their offense, rather than just trying to outscore opponents. With this Zags team focused on utilizing their strengths and hitting their stride, they look to be a major factor in the NCAA Tournament this March.