Key matchup: Saint Mary's senior Alex Ducas rides hot shooting streak into 12th career game against Gonzaga

Mar. 1—MORAGA, Calif. — Nearing the end of his fifth and final college season, Alex Ducas has logged more than a few miles in a Saint Mary's uniform.

The 23-year-old doesn't always occupy one of the top spots on Gonzaga's scouting report, but few Saint Mary's players have appeared on it with more frequency than Ducas.

Ducas will have a chance to match the program record for games played (149) if the Gaels can earn a spot in the conference tournament championship game.

Ducas, who took advantage of a COVID-19 waiver to return to Moraga for a fifth season, is preparing for his 12th career game against Gonzaga, and could make it 13 if the Bulldogs and Gaels meet in the WCC Tournament title game on March 11. That number would've been higher if not for an injury that sidelined Ducas when the teams played in 2020 at the Kennel.

The Geraldton, West Australia, native has registered 331 career minutes against Gonzaga and could see that total rise above 400 if there is another meeting with the Bulldogs after Saturday's game in Moraga.

Ducas had reached double figures in six consecutive games against Gonzaga before going scoreless in a 64-62 win over the Bulldogs on Feb. 2 in Spokane.

What the senior's done in six games since then should have the Bulldogs' attention ahead of Saturday's regular-season finale.

Ducas followed one of his worst outings of the year with six straight double-digit scoring efforts, including consecutive double-doubles in recent games against San Diego and Pepperdine.

Over that stretch, Ducas has averaged 16 points per game, scoring 18 points four times while becoming someone opposing teams can't afford to leave open at the 3-point line.

Ducas missed his only 3-point attempt in the win at Gonzaga, but he came into that game having made 10 of his previous 18 shots from behind the arc. He continued the hot shooting streak after the Gaels left Spokane, making 24 of 40.

With sophomore forward Joshua Jefferson out for the season with a knee injury, Ducas has split time playing both the "3" and "4" for Saint Mary's in recent games. It might be more practical to deploy Ducas at the "3" against Gonzaga's three-big starting lineup, but either way the veteran wing should see plenty of GU defenders — Nolan Hickman, Anton Watson and Ben Gregg among them — throughout what figures to be a physical battle.