The Gonzaga Bulldogs were looking to wrap up a share of the WCC regular season title on Saturday night and finish undefeated at home for the first time since 2006 when they took on the Loyola Marymount Lions. On Senior Night for the Zags, their veteran leaders stepped up to leave no doubt in a 86-67 victory, led by big-man Sam Dower and his double-double. The strong performance showed that Dower is more than capable of stepping up and leading the Zags as they prepare to make a run in the NCAA Tournament.
Dower chipped in 25 points and 15 rebounds on the night as he dominated the interior for Gonzaga all night long. He helped to spark a 10-0 run to end the first half that pushed the Zags’ lead to a comfortable 45-31 margin at the break. It was his fifth double-double of the season as he once again distinguished himself as a presence in the paint, this time in his final home game as a senior with Gonzaga.
After seeing the team struggle somewhat from range in recent games, including their disappointing loss late against the Memphis Tigers, it’s important for the team to establish an inside presence with Dower as they come up on the NCAA Tournament this March. Having that inside-outside combination helps take the pressure off the team’s shooters by providing consistent offensive production and helps to collapse the defense down to open up easier looks.
This performance from Dower showed that he can be that guy for this team to establish the interior game and help set up the long-range shots for the team’s shooters. When they can get that inside-out combination working, they have looked dominant in WCC play. Can Dower step up and provide that inside presence for the Zags when the competition ramps up in the Big Dance?