No. 12 Gonzaga’s most recent game at the McCarthey Athletic Center, known as “The Kennel,” didn’t go well.
The Bulldogs had a 75-game home winning streak — the longest in the modern era of NCAA Division I men’s basketball (since the NCAA Tournament expanded in 1985) — snapped with a 68-67 loss to Loyola Marymount on Jan. 19.
Gonzaga (18-4, 7-1 West Coast Conference) will look to start a new home streak when it faces Santa Clara (16-7, 4-4) on Thursday night in Spokane, Wash.
Gonzaga’s home-court run wasn’t the only streak snapped by Loyola Marymount. The Bulldogs had won 36 straight in the month of January and 93 in a row against unranked opponents.
The Bulldogs rebounded with a pair of road victories, 99-90 at Pacific on Jan. 21 and 82-67 at Portland on Saturday. In the latter contest, Julian Strawther scored a career-high 40 points, sinking eight 3-pointers.
Gonzaga’s Drew Timme had a chance at a 40-point game against Pacific, but he missed two late free throws to finish at 38.
Strawther made two foul shots with 2:10 left against the Pilots, then added a put-back with 1:30 to go to reach the 40-point plateau.
“(Timme) just told me in the locker room, ‘Thank you for not pulling a me and missing the free throws at the end,'” Strawther said.
Strawther’s previous career best was 23 points against Xavier in November.
“We always talk about Portland being a shooters’ gym,” said Strawther, a junior. “I used to get 40 every now and then in high school, but I never thought I’d get one in college.
“All the guys on the bench were yelling at me to get one more bucket. I had a similar moment in high school. I was one basket off 50. It’s a crazy feeling once those last points go in.”
Meanwhile, the Gonzaga defense forced 18 turnovers and allowed its lowest point total in eight conference games.
“We were more alert, more dialed in,” Bulldogs coach Mark Few said. “They hit some threes in that second half. … Some of the actions they do and shots they take are interesting, to say the least, and they had it going, but by and large our energy was better and our connectivity was better. We didn’t have as many assignment errors.”
Santa Clara, which nearly upset visiting Gonzaga on Jan. 7 before falling 81-76, has lost two in a row.
The Broncos fell 77-58 at Saint Mary’s on Jan. 21 and 95-89 on Saturday against visiting Pacific despite guard Brandin Podziemski’s career-high 38 points. A sophomore transfer from Illinois, Podziemski ranks third in the WCC at 19 points per game, behind only Timme (21.4) and Loyola Marymount’s Cam Shelton (19.3).
The Broncos gave up 17 3-pointers against Pacific, however.
“It was one heck of a shooting display. They made shot after shot,” Santa Clara coach Herb Sendek said. “We can’t be pleased with our defensive effort. … The game was decided on the defensive end for us.”
This will be the 100th all-time meeting between the Bulldogs and Broncos. Gonzaga leads the series 69-30, having won 48 of the past 50 meetings and the past 25 in a row.
–Field Level Media