The Gonzaga Bulldogs went on the road to take on the Loyola Marymount Lions on Saturday night and for a while were getting all they could handle. Despite their 10-9 record coming into the game, LMU held a two-point lead with 13 minutes to play in the second half. But the Zags were able to use a 13-2 run to open up the game in the second half and escaped with an 82-72 win. With their run to put some distance between them on the scoreboard, Gonzaga might have been in store for a major upset.
Throughout the game, LMU appeared to be the team with higher energy, scrambling for loose balls, grabbing offensive rebounds, and pushing the tempo the entire game. Gonzaga was able to finally pull away when they slowed things down and imposed their will on the Lions, running their offense through Sam Dower, who chipped in a career-high 28 points on the night. LMU had no answer for Gonzaga when they ran their offense and they were lucky to run it just long enough to put this game away.
There is no question that Gonzaga is still the most talented team in the WCC this season but they have had lapses of effort in conference play this season. They were upset earlier in the year by the Portland Pilots after they were “surprised” by the effort of the underdog and they couldn’t match their energy in their 82-73 loss. They looked to be in the same boat again on Saturday before waking up in the second half and taking control of the game over what should have been an overmatched LMU roster.
Gonzaga has suffered momentary lapses of effort it seems this season and that is something that Mark Few needs to take care of before the WCC and NCAA Tournaments. While the Zags are still the most talented team in the conference, the gap isn’t big enough for them not to show up and play their best. Will their lapses of effort cost them come tournament time?