(7) Gonzaga (17-5) at Saint Mary's (18-3)

Cloudy Currently: Moraga, CA
Temp: 57° F
  • Game info: 11:00 pm EST Mon Feb 4, 2008
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Last season. Saint Mary’s shocked Gonzaga by handing the perennial West Coast Conference power its first conference loss in nearly two years.

The Bulldogs (17-5, 6-0) hope for some revenge on Monday at McKeon Pavilion, as they try to maintain control over the 21st-ranked Gaels (18-3, 5-1) in standings.

Including conference tournament play, Gonzaga had won 30 straight before losing 80-75 at Saint Mary’s on Jan. 15, 2007. The Bulldogs bounced back less than a month later with a 60-49 win.

The Gaels said, however, the upset win last season is now irrelevant.

“That’s one of the things of the past. Now, it’s how can we get them now?” junior forward Diamon Simpson said.

A win on Monday would move the Gaels into a tie with Gonzaga atop the conference. Saint Mary’s dropped into second after a 63-55 road loss to San Diego on Monday.

They responded with and 86-49 win over Portland on Saturday, though, shooting 54.0 percent from the field and connecting on 10 3-pointers.

“If we don’t win every game, we take it personally,” center Omar Samhan said. “The biggest thing we have to deal with is not giving teams any hope - keep them down. Our goal is to win big every night.”

Ian O’Leary scored a season-high 20 points on Saturday to help overcome a poor offensive game from leading scorer Patrick Mills, who was limited to eight on 3-of-7 shooting. The win was Saint Mary’s first as a ranked team since late in the 1988-89 season, and the blowout victory gave coach Randy Bennett plenty of time to rest his starters as none played more than 27 minutes.

The Gaels shot only 39.6 percent from the field in the loss to the Toreros and committed 16 turnovers, but Saint Mary’s committed just nine turnovers on Saturday to stay undefeated in 12 home games this season.

The defending conference champion Bulldogs, meanwhile, have won two straight since an eight-point loss to top-ranked Memphis on Jan. 26, including an 87-82 double-overtime win over Santa Clara on Saturday. Gonzaga shot 50 percent from the field and had five players reach double figures, led by freshman Austin Daye’s career-high 22 points.

Daye had 13 in overtime, including the go-ahead basket to stave off the upset. Steven Gray, who finished with 16, made a pair of free throws with 0.3 seconds left in regulation to send the game into the extra session.

Although the Bulldogs are undefeated in conference play and are averaging a WCC-leading 83.5 , Saint Mary’s believes it can compete thanks to having one of the best defenses in the conference—allowing 57.2 points per game.

The Gaels are winning by an average of 22.6 points in their 12 home victories and they have won two of the last three there against Gonzaga. The Bulldogs are 56-6 in conference play since 2004-05.

“They’re deeper than they’ve been in the past. So are we,” O’Leary said. “We’ve played Oregon and Seton Hall here, those kind of crazy atmospheres. We feel good playing at home.”

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