Approximately 700km away from their familiar surroundings, the Gonzaga Bulldogs played in front of a “home court” crowd at Rogers Arena on Saturday night as they tipped off against the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors in the inaugural BC Basketball Classic.
Tagged as a home coming for the Gonzaga Bulldogs big man Rob Sacre (North Vancouver) and forward Kelly Olynyk (Kamloops), the Zags and Warriors took to the court in front of an announced 9500 fans.
While Olynyk was confined to the bench in street clothes (Olynyk is redshirting this year), Sacre and fellow Canadian Kevin Pangos (Newmarket, Ont) represented the maple leaf proudly.
With hoop fans excited to see a high level of basketball back on the court at Rogers Arena, both teams did little to impress as they struggled to put the pumpkin in the basket for the first three minutes. The opening jumper by Warriors guard Shaquille Stokes was the first and last time the team from Hawaii would be in control of the scoreboard.
Although Pangos was able to drain a buttery soft three ball moments later to represent the Canadian contingent, it wasn’t until twelve minutes into the first half that hometown hero Sacre was able to hit his first basket.
Combining for 33% from the field, the Bulldogs and Warriors failed to provide the “ooh’s and aah’s” that casual hoop fans would hope for, as the teams headed into the locker room at the half, 33-27 for the Bulldogs.
Scoring picked up in the final twenty minutes as the shooting percentage for Gonzaga improved to 48% as the Bulldogs made the most of a frustrated Warriors lineup and coaching staff.
In one of the more exciting moments of the evening, Warriors coach Gib Arnold was ejected for the remainder of the game after letting the officials know exactly what he thought of certain calls made towards his team throughout the evening.
Tallying a team high 31 minutes, Sacre paced the Zags with 16 points and 10 rebounds before walking off the court to a standing ovation from the home town crowd.
Pangos, who remained quite for the rest of the first half after hitting his first three ball finished with 10 points and 3 assists as the Bulldogs improved their overall record to 4-0 with a 73-54 victory.