SPOKANE — Saint Mary’s and Gonzaga have played some epic basketball games in recent years.
Thursday night’s game was not one of them.
No. 24 Gonzaga dominated the Gaels in nearly every phase of a 73-51 victory.
“This is a tough place to play and they are a good team,” said interim coach Eran Ganot, who is filling in while Saint Mary’s coach Randy Bennett serves a five-game suspension for NCAA violations.
Even though Gonzaga is hampered with injury issues, Ganot said the Zags have solid depth that held the Gaels to 31.9 percent shooting and out-rebounded them 39-22. Gonzaga blocked 10 shots, seven by Przemek Karnowski.
But it was one game, Ganot noted.
“This program has been good about adjusting ourselves and moving on to the next game,” he said
The 7-foot-1 Karnowski led the Zags with 15 points and nine rebounds.
“I was happy I was able to give my effort for the team,” he said.
With one starter out of the lineup and two hobbled with injuries, the Zags have been depending on players like Karnowski, Drew Barham and Angel Nunez to step up. All three did Thursday.
“We stick together like a family,” Karnowski said. “Everyone has to step up a little bit.”
Kevin Pangos, who is hampered with turf toe, added 15 points and eight rebounds for the Bulldogs (13-2, 3-0 West Coast Conference). Starting forward Sam Dower Jr. played sparingly as he continues to recover from a back injury, and starting guard Gary Bell Jr. is out with a broken hand.
Gonzaga has won three straight games since losing to Kansas State. The Zags have won 21 straight WCC games spanning three seasons.
Saint Mary’s (10-4, 1-1) in the past decade has battled Gonzaga for supremacy of the WCC, and the teams have met in the past five WCC tournament title games, with the Gaels winning two.
Beau Levesque scored 12 points to lead Saint Mary’s, which shot 31.9 percent, while Gonzaga shot 49 percent.
The Gaels, who came in averaging 43 percent from three-point range, made just 1 of 12 three-point attempts.
“We knew we had to guard the three-point line,” Gonzaga’s Gerard Coleman said. “That’s their forte, how they win games.”
Nunez added 13 points and Kyle Dranginis had 12 for Gonzaga, which out-rebounded the Gaels 39-22.
“We took a really good basketball team and guarded them great,” Gonzaga coach Mark Few said. “It was probably our best all-around effort of the whole year.”