13th-ranked Bulldogs host underdog Spartans

Spokane, WA (SportsNetwork.com) – The 13th-ranked Gonzaga Bulldogs will wrap
up their season-opening four-game homestand on Saturday night when they
welcome the St. Thomas Aquinas Spartans to the McCarthey Athletic Center as
part of the NIT Season Tip-Off.

Saint Thomas Aquinas, a member of the East Coast Conference at the Division II
level, has began the season with two straight home losses to St. Michael’s
(92-80) and Pace (75-68).

Gonzaga has backed up its standing as the No. 13 team in the nation with three
straight wins to open the campaign, most notably claiming a convincing 72-56
triumph over nationally-ranked SMU on Monday, 72-56. The Bulldogs most
recently dismantled Saint Joseph’s on Wednesday, 94-42.

This marks the first-ever meeting between the programs.

Although the Spartans slightly outshot their opponent from the field in their
most recent game, 46.4 percent to 46.3 percent, they could not dig themselves
out of a 15-point halftime deficit. Shaquille McFarlan provided a spark off
the bench with 15 points on 5-of-7 from the field. James Mitchell (12 points),
Matthew Lee (11 points) and Chaz Walter (10 points) all finished in double
figures as well, while Sam Berlin tallied eight points and 10 boards.

On the season, St. Thomas’ offensive numbers have been impressive (.479 FG
percentage, 74.0 ppg), but unfortunately its defensive production has been
lackluster, allowing opponents to put up 83.5 ppg on 48.4 percent shooting.
Lee (17.5 ppg), McFarlan (12.0 ppg) and Walter (10.0 ppg) are the team’s top

The Bulldogs rolled to a 52-point victory over Saint Joseph’s their last time
out, which set a McCarthey Athletic Center record for largest margin of
victory and was Saint Joseph’s worst defeat in program history. The squad
shined on both ends of the floor, shooting 56.9 percent from the field
(including 10-of-22 from beyond the arc) while holding its opponent to a mere
25.9 percent shooting. Pacing five teammates in double figures with 18 points
was Gary Bell, Jr., who knocked down 5-of-7 from 3-point distance. Josh
Perkins (13 points) and Domantas Sabonis (10 points, 11 rebounds) both took
advantage of extended playing time off the bench, Byron Wesley tallied 12
points, six assists and five boards, and Przemek Karnowski added 11 points and
eight rebounds.

Gonzaga’s dominance has shown through in all three games its played, as it
outshoots its opponents from the field, 52.4 percent to 30.9 percent, while
boasting a staggering +38.0 scoring margin. The Zags have no shortage of
playmakers, with nine guys averaging at least 6.3 ppg. Kevin Pangos (13.0
ppg), Sabonis (12.3 ppg, 9.3 rpg), Kyle Wiltjer (11.7 ppg) and Bell (11.7 ppg)
are the core.