GAME NOTES: Coming off only their second loss of 2014 and their fourth overall, the Gonzaga Bulldogs will try to get back in a positive frame of mind when they entertain the Pepperdine Waves in a West Coast Conference clash on Thursday.
Pepperdine enters this fray off a 69-67 overtime loss at home to Saint Mary's, putting an end to a modest two-game win streak. The setback dropped the team to 14-11 overall and 7-6 in conference. The Waves are an even 5-5 in true road games this season, and they've come up short in their last two bouts away from home.
Gonzaga had a seven-game win streak come to an end with last Saturday's 60-54 loss at Memphis. As a result, the Bulldogs dipped to 21-4 overall, but maintained their 11-1 league ledger. They were also dropped from this week's AP poll, and they'll try to keep their perfect home record intact after winning each of their first 13 games at the McCarthey Athletic Center this season.
Gonzaga routed Pepperdine in the first meeting between the two this season (70-53), improving its leads in the all-time series to 45-31. The Bulldogs have won 40 of the last 45 meetings, with the Waves' last win coming at home on Jan. 18, 2002 (88-79). The Zags have won the last 15 encounters in Spokane.
Pepperdine is a decent offensive team, averaging 72.2 ppg in hitting 46.3 percent of its field goal attempts, which includes a 36.7 percent effort from 3-point range, but the Waves have been rather lax at the defensive end in permitting 71.1 ppg behind typical shooting outputs of .432 overall and .356 from beyond the arc. The team boasts three double-digit scorers in Stacy Davis (14.8 ppg, 7.7 rpg), Brendan Lane (14.1 ppg, 7.7 rpg, 2.6 bpg) and Jeremy Major (10.2 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 4.4 apg).
Lane was high man for the Waves in their overtime loss to Saint Mary's, as he logged a double-double with 19 points and 10 rebounds, while three others joined the double-digit scoring parade, including Amadi Udenyi who tallied 10 points and seven assists. As a team, Pepperdine shot 41.8 percent from the floor, while holding the Gaels to just 35.5 percent, which included a 6-of-22 showing from 3-point range. The Waves suffered a 40-31 rebounding deficit, resulting in SMC posting a 13-5 edge in second-chance points.
Gonzaga is as solid an offensive team as it is on defense, as the Zags put up 77.9 ppg while allowing just 65.6 ppg. While sporting three double-digit scorers, the team relies on balance to get the job done most nights. Kevin Pangos (15.0 ppg, 4.1 apg), Sam Dower (14.7 ppg, 6.5 rpg) and Gary Bell, Jr. (11.4 ppg) do most of the heavy lifting, but five others tally between 6.5 and 9.9 ppg.
In the recent loss to Memphis, Dower went 9-of-12 from the field to finish with 18 points, and he grabbed eight rebounds as well, but the Bulldogs missed 14 of their 16 3-point attempts and more than half of their free throws (6- of-13). Przemek Karnowski and Gerard Coleman each tacked on 12 points for the Zags, who held the Tigers to just 34.5 percent field goal efficiency, although they scored 18 points at the charity stripe while claiming a resounding 44-28 rebounding advantage, which included 20 offensive boards.
While the Waves are likely to churn up the competitive juices in an effort to derail the Gonzaga express, expect the Bulldogs to bounce back with a vengeance as they continue their quest for yet another WCC crown.
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