SPOKANE, Wash. -- With No. 24 Gonzaga nursing injuries to its top three scorers, the Saint Mary's College men's basketball team had a prime opportunity to score a road win against its fiercest West Coast Conference rival.
Instead, the Gaels struggled at both ends of the floor while posting ugly numbers on the stat sheet in a 73-51 loss at the McCarthey Athletic Center on Thursday night.
After matching its best start to a season in school history, the Gaels have now lost four of their past five games and will be without suspended head coach Randy Bennett for three more games.
Defense has been the primary concern during the poor stretch, but the Gaels had an even tougher night scoring against the defending conference champions who improved to 66-2 in WCC games at their 10-year-old home.
Saint Mary's (10-4, 1-1 WCC) shot just 32 percent from the floor, made one 3-pointer in 12 attempts and didn't record an assist until Jordan Giusti found Paul McCoy with 3:42 left and the Zags holding a 30-point lead.
"They switched a lot and made it so we couldn't get a lot of open 3s, which is something we're pretty good at," said senior Beau Levesque, who led Saint Mary's with 12 points. "Collectively, we have to do a better job of taking care of the ball and trying to find open guys. We only had two assists for the game, and we're a team that prides itself on having a lot of offensive weapons. We just have to trust each other."
The Gaels were outrebounded 39-22.
"They're a good rebounding team," Gaels acting head coach Eran Ganot said of Gonzaga. "But (a margin of) 17 is unacceptable."
Gonzaga (13-2, 3-0) showed its depth, winning decisively despite injuries to starters Gary Bell Jr., Sam Dower Jr. and Kevin Pangos.
Dower (back) played just seven minutes in his return to the lineup, but Bell sat with a fractured shooting hand and Pangos, the point guard, continued to play through a toe injury. He finished with 15 points, eight rebounds and four assists.
Sophomore Przemek Karnowski also made an impact on both ends for Gonzaga, scoring 15 points, grabbing nine rebounds and blocking seven shots. The 7-foot-1 center from Poland slowed Gaels leading scorer Brad Waldow, who was limited to five points on 1-for-8 shooting.
The Gaels kept pace with the Zags early and were tied 18-18 before being outscored 18-4 in the final 7:35 of the first half.
Gonzaga led by double digits the rest of the way.
"You want to weather the storm early and we did, but they have a second punch and a third punch," Ganot said. "That's when you have to continue to be disciplined and take good shots and make them guard. We went away from that, and that's what happens."
Saint Mary's (10-4, 1-1 WCC) at Portland (9-6, 1-2),
7 p.m. CSNBA