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Gonzaga 68, Saint Mary’s 47

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SPOKANE, Wash. — Point guard Kevin Pangos led a balanced Gonzaga offense with 14 points Thursday night as the third-ranked Bulldogs downed Saint Mary’s 68-47 to take sole possession of first place in the West Coast Conference.

The Bulldogs (19-1, 8-0 WCC) earned their 12th consecutive win. Saint Mary’s (15-4, 7-1) saw its six-game winning streak end.

Center Przemek Karnowski scored 12 points for Gonzaga, and forward Kyle Wiltjer added 11. Forward Brad Waldow led Saint Mary’s with 14 points and seven rebounds.

Gonzaga led only 37-34 before a 12-0 run midway through the second half assured that the longest home winning streak in NCAA Division I men’s basketball would be extended to 35 games.

Back-to-back dunks by Karnowski, both coming off slick feeds from Pangos, sparked the 12-point spurt. Wiltjer followed Karnowski’s dunks by blocking a shot, then racing down the court and scoring on a drive after a behind-the-back dribble that brought the sellout crowd of 6,000 to its feet.

Gonzaga shot 52.9 percent from the field and held Saint Mary’s to 36 percent shooting. Kerry Carter and Aaron Bright, the Gaels’ starting guards, combined for five points. Bright went 0-for-7 from the floor and finished scoreless. Bright was averaging 11.6 points, and Carter was averaging 12.9.

The 47 points tied a season low for the Gaels. Saint Mary’s lost to Gonzaga in the seventh straight meeting.

Gonzaga led 27-21 at the end of a first half that featured tenacious defensive play by both teams. The Bulldogs managed to shoot 52.2 percent from the field in the opening half, but Saint Mary’s hit just 33.3 percent while making only one of 10 attempts from 3-point range.

NOTES: G Eric McClellan, a Vanderbilt transfer, made his Gonzaga debut. The junior was ineligible due to NCAA transfer rules until earlier this month, and then he sustained a foot injury. … Hundreds of Gonzaga students kept a school tradition alive by braving freezing temperatures to stay in tents overnight outside the McCarthey Athletic Center to guarantee themselves the best seats in the student section. McCarthey holds 6,000, and 1,200 seats are reserved for students. … Gonzaga ranked among the NCAA Division I leaders in several statistics through Wednesday. The Bulldogs were first in field-goal shooting percentage (.530), fourth in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.63-to-1), seventh in assists per game (17.6), eighth in points per game (81.8), 10th in 3-point field-goal shooting percentage (.406) and 11th in rebound margin (plus-9.1). Saint Mary’s was sixth in rebound margin (plus-9.8). … Among individuals, Gonzaga PG Kevin Pangos was second in assist-to-turnover ratio (3.96-to-1), and Saint Mary’s F Brad Waldow was ninth in scoring (20.6 points per game) and 15th in rebounding (10.1 per game).

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