for this game

Gonzaga takes advantage of injury, top Saint Mary's

Jan 30, 2009 - 7:07 AM SPOKANE, Washington (Ticker) -- With Patrick Mills out of the game, Gonzaga had little trouble taking the early lead in the race for the West Coast Conference crown.

Matt Bouldin scored 17 points and Steven Gray added 14 as No. 25 Gonzaga used a dominant second half with Mills sidelined, posting a 69-62 victory over 18th-ranked Saint Mary's on Thursday.

Jeremy Pargo chipped in 11 points for the Bulldogs (15-4, 6-0 WCC), who ended the Gaels' school-record 15-game winning streak in a matchup of the only two unbeaten teams in the WCC.

"We beat a very, very good basketball team tonight," Gonzaga coach Mark Few said. "Our guys did a great job in a lot of areas."

The expected showdown took a hit when Mills sprained his right wrist late in the first half and did not return after the break. The Australian Olympian was bumped to the ground by Pargo on a drive to the basket and was forced to watch the rest of the game with his hand wrapped in ice.

"He's a tremendous player but they're not just all about Patty," Few said. "They have a really nice team.

"At halftime we made some adjustments and I thought we came out and stuck with the plan."

Gonzaga, which has won the last eight WCC regular-season titles, did not have an answer for Mills in the first half as Saint Mary's led by as many as eight early on. The six-foot sophomore made a career-high six 3-pointers and the Gaels held a 39-33 lead at the break.

However, with the Gaels' star guard out of the lineup, the Bulldogs took full advantage and quickly turned the halftime deficit into a 46-45 lead with 13:39 to play.

Gonzaga continued its defensive intensity and scored 12 straight points - fueled by Micah Downs' alley-oop dunk and Gray's 3-pointer - to take a 58-48 bulge with 7:49 remaining.

Saint Mary's (18-2, 5-1), which shot 33 percent (10-of-30) from the field in the second half, never got closer than six the rest of the way.

It was the 14th straight home win against the Gaels for the Bulldogs, who will visit Saint Mary's in two weeks on February 12.

"You gotta take care of business," Few said. "(This game is) no more important than the one on Saturday."

Mills led the way with 18 points for Saint Mary's, which committed 15 turnovers. Diamon Simpson had 17 points and 12 rebounds.

With the McCarthey Athletic Center rocking, Saint Mary's got off to a sluggish start, turning the ball over five times within the first five minutes as Gonzaga jumped out to a 10-3 lead.

Mills got the Gaels going with consecutive 3-pointers and later capped a 13-2 spurt with three more shots from the arc, the last of which - a pull-up from the right wing in transition - gave the Gaels a 29-21 advantage with 7:24 left in the first half.

Gonzaga fought back but was unable to take the lead and Ian O'Leary's scoop shot gave Saint Mary's a 39-33 advantage at the break.