Los Angeles, CA – The Gonzaga Bulldogs came into Gersten Pavilion Thursday night looking for their tenth conference victory as they took the court against Loyola Marymount University. The Bulldogs did just that with a 92-63 victory, thanks in large part to Kyle Wiltjer and Domantus Sabonis, son of NBA great Arvydas Sabonis.
The Lions came out with incredible energy, feeding off the frenzied fans and atmosphere created by the ESPN crew on hand. LMU ran out to a 6-2 lead led by Adom Jacko, who scored the team’s first 4 points including an athletic putback dunk. From that point on it was all downhill for the home team as Gonzaga started to find its offense. The Bulldogs out-rebounded LMU 21-9 in the first half including five offensive rebounds. The Zags dominance in the paint allowed them to shoot 63% in the half, most of the buckets coming on lay-ups and dunks. The first half scoring load was spread evenly for Gonzaga, Kyle Dranginis, Eric McClellan, and Kyle Wiltjer each scored nine apiece, and big man Domantus Sabonis led the way with 10. GU ended the half on a 20-4 run and went to the break with a commanding 47-26 lead.
The second half was more of the same as the Bulldogs were simply too big and too physical for the undersized Lions. Kyle Wiltjer led the Zags in scoring with 23 points, while Sabonis had 21 of his own to go with 11 rebounds. About the only bright spot for LMU was their star big man Adom Jacko, who brought effort and energy all night. It was clear Jacko wanted to show off his talents for the NBA scouts in attendance, along with the national audience tuned in on ESPN3. Jacko again led his team in points and rebounds as he recorded 23 and 7 against a NBA prospect laden front line of Gonzaga. The inability to rebound or play defense is what enabled GU to leave Los Angeles with such a dominant victory. The final rebounding differential was 40-25 in favor of the victors, the Zags also converted on 57% of their shots, not a good combo for the lions.
LMU will look to bounce back on Saturday when Portland comes to town. Gonzaga will look to bolster their already strong NCAA tournament resume when they visit Pepperdine Saturday afternoon.