So much has happened in Gonzaga Athletics in [roughly] the last 48 hours. The Lady Zags’ basketball team avenged a 30 point loss to BYU with a 17 point victory and their eighth straight WCC regular season title; GU’s men had a nail-biter game in San Diego—in which the Bulldogs got the win; the baseball team won four games to capture a 7-0 start to the season; all of which were positives. Yet, the one thing that no Zag was involved in was the most devastating to the school—St. Mary’s beat San Francisco in men’s basketball to earn the outright regular season West Coast Conference title.
It had been 11 straight years of success. The only program with a longer streak in NCAA men’s basketball: UCLA with 13 straight league championships under the legendary coach, John Wooden. We were so close, yet it doesn’t really matter now because as soon as you let go of controlling your own destiny, there is no hand in the outcome, which is likely to be detrimental.
Some may want to blame USF for not pulling through with an upset over the Gaels Saturday night, but the reality is, if Gonzaga had taken care of the ball better and beat the Dons last week, none of it would have mattered. The sudden emotion of the streak ending is challenging to deal with—for as long as I can remember Gonzaga controlled the WCC—now that era is over.
There are two ways to deal with the outcome of the regular season; first is to be completely angry and make excuses for failing to execute when needed during conference play. The second approach is to reflect on having one of the most remarkable runs in college basketball and be grateful to have been a part and a witness to the mark in history Zags Basketball has made. It truly is impressive to see where Gonzaga, the West Coast Conference, and the basketball program have progressed to over the last 12 years all because of that first championship that started a decade of excellence.
It may take a while to move to that second phase, but by the time the post season ends, I have a feeling the devastating state of ending the streak will fade and appreciation will remain for a lifetime. I hope anyway.
Winning is what it means to be a Zag
However, while one run ended, another remained intact. The women have continued the trend of capturing conference titles in Spokane, and did it for the eighth straight time Saturday afternoon. As the Kennel said goodbye to five seniors in their final regular season game, the Zags said goodbye to BYU and their aspirations of taking the crown from the queens of Spokane and the WCC.
Katelan Redmon showed she was going to be the hometown hero in her final home game at the MAC (if the team makes the NCAA tournament she will have a shot a few more, however). Redmon racked up 28 points for the Bulldogs. Fellow senior Kayla Standish tallied 15 points—all of which came in the second half. Standish sat the majority of the first half due to two early fouls; yet she took control of the paint when she started the second.
Underclassmen may not have been glorified, but junior point guard Taelor Karr scored in double digits with 11 points and dished out six assists. Sophomore guard, Jazmine Redmon, who comes off the bench, gave out seven assists and scored five. GU won the game 77-60.
On the men’s side, a fiery San Diego squad hosted the Zags and made it interesting, and nerve wrecking for the Zag fans. No one, except for Guy Landry Edi had a good game. Edi capitalized on great shooting with a perfect 4-4 from the field; six of those points came from behind the arc. He also was 3-5 from the free throw lined to end the night with 13 points and no turnovers.
Unlike Edi, the rest of the team combined for 13 turnovers (unfortunately that is significantly lower than most recent games for this team) and struggled to shoot well. Rob Sacre and Kevin Pangos each grabbed 11 points; seven of those for Sacre were from the line. Pangos had a decent night from the three, netting three of four attempts—yet that is where nine of his points came from—the other two were free throws. The common theme: not much inside from either of them. They also turned the ball over three times each.
Elias Harris, who was by far the most athletic and explosive athlete on the court, only managed seven points; however he did grab 12 boards. He needs to take over games and teams like the Toreros, not allow them to control his play. Gonzaga pulled it out 65-57, despite trailing the majority of the second half.
On the baseball field in little Beaumont, Texas, the Zags played host school Lamar and fellow visitor Illinois in two double headers; one on Friday and the other on Saturday. All four games ended in the Bulldogs’ favor, including the final game of the weekend that stretched to 12 innings. Gonzaga is now 7-0 for the year and is looking like a solid team.
In the first game Friday, GU knocked off Illinois 13-3 with Marco Gonzales tossing eight innings with seven K’s and only giving up one run. Offensively, seniors Eric Lane and Andy Hunter drove in two runs a piece, as did junior transfer Alex Bonczyk.
Game two on Friday was a 6-1 W over Lamar with junior Billy Moon pitching eight solid innings for GU. He too had seven strikeouts and gave up one earned run. Senior outfielder Royce Bolinger collected three RBI’s, while junior short-stop Steven Halcomb knocked in two runs.
Saturday’s noon game against the Illini was a 7-3 win, as Andy Hunter pitched a complete game for the Bulldogs. Once again, seven strikeouts were recorded and only one earned run was given up. Junior designated hitter Clayton Eslick batted in two teammates, while Gonzales played first and drove in two runs as well.
After a long and condensed weekend of baseball, GU was set to face Lamar again Saturday evening. The Bulldogs gave up an early lead, but fought back to tie the game. After 12 innings of baseball it was Halcomb who brought home the winning run in the 6-5 victory. Tyler Olson started on the mound and through six and a third innings recorded, what do you know, seven K’s. Gonzales brought his offense for the second straight game collecting two more RBI’s for Gonzaga.
It was a weekend of winning for the Bulldogs. It is pretty impressive at how successful the Zags were this weekend all around the nation. Let the victorious attitude prevail in the next week as basketball heads to Vegas for the conference tournament and the baseball team returns to Texas for three games in San Antonio.