One of Gonzaga’s most memorable games at the McCarthey Athletic Center last year was against Loyola Marymount. As usual, though, the matchup gave the Bulldogs little trouble.
On track for a 10th straight regular-season West Coast Conference title, the 15th-ranked Bulldogs look to win their 19th consecutive home game against the Lions on Saturday night.
A 91-84 home win over Pepperdine on Thursday night gave Gonzaga (15-3, 4-0) sole possession of first place in the conference.
The Bulldogs, winners of seven straight and 20 in a row in conference play, are expected to cruise down the stretch. Six of Gonzaga’s last 10 WCC games are at the McCarthey Athletic Center, where it is 68-4 since the venue opened in 2004.
The Bulldogs have won 18 straight at home against the Lions (10-10, 1-3), winning the last three by an average of 35.0 points, and lead the overall series 52-20. In the teams’ last meeting at the McCarthey Athletic Center, Gonzaga secured its 12th consecutive 20-win season and ninth straight WCC regular-season title with a 91-54 victory Feb. 19.
Matt Bouldin, averaging 16.2 points for the Bulldogs, was held to four in that contest. Still, Gonzaga was overpowering offensively.
Bouldin had a career-high 32 points against Pepperdine in one of Gonzaga’s best offensive performances this season. The senior guard shot 10 for 16 after being held to six points on 2-of-5 shooting in a 68-50 win over San Diego last Saturday night.
Freshman forward Elias Harris was the Bulldogs’ top scorer in that game, posting 20 points. He’s averaging 23.7 points and 11.6 rebounds in his last three contests, developing into an outstanding complement to Bouldin’s perimeter play.
With Bouldin and Harris entrenched as his go-to scorers, coach Mark Few would now like to see his team improve defensively. The Bulldogs have given up over 80 points in two of their last three games.
“We need to figure out some guys who can dig in and get a stop,” Few said.
Loyola Marymount is coming off its worst scoring game of the season, losing 79-39 to Portland on Thursday night. The Lions shot 21.2 percent (11 for 52) and committed 20 turnovers.
Injuries forced Loyola Marymount to use its eighth different lineup, but coach Max Good doesn’t want to use that as an excuse.
“Injuries or not, we have to be tougher,” he said.
Jarred DuBois became the fourth different Lions starter to miss a game due to injury this season. The sophomore guard, averaging 12.7 points, sat out due to dehydration.
Freshman guard Ashley Hamilton missed the second half due to a strained knee suffered when he hit the floor. He played seven minutes, scoring one point after reaching double figures in four of his previous five contests.
Drew Viney (shin) and Larry Davis (Achilles’) played despite missing an entire week of practice. Davis went 0 for 5 and had two points, but Viney had 18.
Viney, a forward, ranks fourth in the WCC in scoring, averaging 16.6 points while shooting 44.6 percent from 3-point range.