GAME NOTES: The sixth-ranked Gonzaga Bulldogs look to improve to 10-0 in league play on Saturday when they host the Loyola Marymount Lions at the McCarthy Athletic Center for West Coast Conference action.
This will be the second meeting between these schools this season. Gonzaga completed an 88-43 rout of the Lions on Jan. 31 in Los Angeles to extend its all-time series lead to 56-23. The Bulldogs have won six straight in the series and 34-of-37 overall versus Loyola Marymount.
Loyola Marymount continued to struggle on Thursday as it dropped a 69-60 decision to the Portland Pilots to mark its seventh loss in a row. The recent slide has given the Lions a disappointing 8-15 overall record that includes their 1-9 mark in WCC action. Anthony Ireland tallied 21 points and five assists in the loss to the Pilots, while Ayodeji Egbeyemi and Godwin Okonji scored 10 points apiece.
Ireland is pacing LMU and is the second-leading scorer in the conference with 19.8 ppg. Despite his solid outing against Portland, the team fell by nine points due to a very poor defensive effort. The Pilots managed to assist 19 of their 23 makes from the field while going 11-of-16 from 3-point range to down the Lions. Ashley Hamilton is the second option in LMU's offense and posts 13.8 points and 6.6 rebounds per game while Egbeyemi contributed 10.9 points and 6.2 boards per tilt. The three-headed attack has taken LMU to a 68.2 ppg scoring offense average, which is not nearly enough to counteract its WCC- worst scoring defense that gives up 71.2 ppg.
Mark Few's Bulldogs notched their fifth win in a row and improved to 9-0 in conference action on Thursday with an 82-56 rout of the Pepperdine Waves. Gonzaga has only fallen on two occasions this season to respectable opposition in Illinois and Butler. It has been extremely successful in league action to outscore its opposition by an average of 16.4 ppg. The team's success all starts with the dynamic forward combination of Kelly Olynyk and Elias Harris, who net 17.6 points and 14.7 points per game, respectively. Olynk is also pacing the team on the glass with seven boards per tilt.
Sophomore point guard Kevin Pangos thrives from the perimeter while Gonzaga's talented forwards demand defensive attention on the interior. Pangos, who is the team's third-leading scorer with 11.5 ppg, scored 14 points as the Bulldogs went 12-of-27 from beyond the arc to fly past Pepperdine. Gonzaga was extremely impressive on the defensive end in the bout, holding the Waves to 36.2 percent shooting from the floor en route to the decision.
Gonzaga's ability to outperform its opposition on both ends of the floor has been apparent throughout its sensational 2012-13 campaign. The Lions stand very little chance on the road in this one after being demolished by the Zags at home.