Gonzaga is coming off an uncharacteristically dismal game offensively. The Bulldogs, though, have a good opportunity to bounce back in a hurry.
After its lowest-scoring game in more than a decade, No. 17 Gonzaga looks to take advantage of what has often been a porous Cal State Northridge defense when the teams meet Saturday night.
Gonzaga (7-2) was scoring 76.9 points per game before losing 51-47 to No. 8 Washington State on Wednesday night. It was the fewest points scored by the Bulldogs since a 71-47 loss at Southern Utah on Nov. 23, 1996, and dropped their season scoring average to 73.6.
Gonzaga shot 25.9 percent from the field against one of the nation’s best defenses, marking the first time it was held below 30 percent since a 2002 NCAA tournament loss to Wyoming. The Zags had not scored fewer than 63 points in a game this season, but have scored at least 80 four times.
“I was taking shots I had made since the 5th grade, open 3s and one-dribble pull-ups,” said Bulldogs forward Austin Daye, who was 1-of-11 from the floor. “I couldn’t finish it. … It doesn’t happen to us very often.”
Daye is the Zags’ second-leading scorer at 12.4 points per game, but the freshman forward is shooting 39.7 percent from the field. He has, however, made a team-best 90.0 percent of his free throws.
Matt Bouldin, who leads the Bulldogs with 12.8 points a contest, missed all nine of his shots and did not score Wednesday. The second-year guard was averaging 14.4 points entering the game.
Gonzaga will now face a Northridge team that is second-worst in the Big West in scoring defense, allowing 74.6 points per game. The Matadors (6-1) have given up more than 80 points three times this season - all against underwhelming opponents.
The Matadors, however, have won two straight since their only loss of the season - 97-74 to Duquesne on Nov. 30 - and have stepped up their play on defense over that stretch, allowing a total of just 107 points.
Calvin Chitwood and Deon Tresvant combined for 16 points in the game’s final 11 minutes to lead Northridge to a 76-64 win over Utah Valley State on Wednesday.
“We’re just continuing to work hard - and getting good results,” Matadors center Tremaine Townsend said.
Chitwood had 15 points and 11 rebounds, and Tresvant scored 14 points. Chitwood, a senior forward, is tied with Jonathan Heard for the team lead in scoring at 13.6 points per game.
This will be Northridge’s first matchup with a ranked opponent since a 63-61 loss to then-No. 18 Pacific on March 11, 2005.
“Gonzaga is a very talented team, and we are going to have to play perfect basketball to beat them,” Matadors coach Bobby Braswell said. “It will be a good test for us this early in the season. It will be a tough environment … and it will be a great experience for us.”
Gonzaga and Northridge have split their two meetings, with the Bulldogs winning the last matchup 90-57 on Nov. 27, 1993.