Share This StoryFacebookTwitteremailPrintLinkedinRedditSaint Mary’s (26-7, 13-5) vs. No. 1 seed Gonzaga (30-2, 16-1)West Coast Conference Tourney , Orleans Arena, Las Vegas; Tuesday, 8 p.m. EDTBOTTOM LINE: Saint Mary’s and Gonzaga are set to do battle in the of the WCC tournament. Gonzaga swept the two-game regular season series. The teams last went at it on Feb. 29, when the Bulldogs shot 59.3 percent from the field while limiting Saint Mary’s’s shooters to just 49.2 percent on their way to an 86-76 victory. March 10, 2020 Associated Press For more AP college basketball coverage: https://apnews.com/Collegebasketball and http://twitter.com/AP_Top25___This was generated by Automated Insights, http://www.automatedinsights.com/ap, using data from STATS LLC, https://www.stats.com SUPER SENIORS: Saint Mary’s has benefited heavily from its seniors. Jordan Ford, Malik Fitts, Tanner Krebs and Tommy Kuhse have collectively accounted for 70 percent of the team’s scoring this year and 102 percent of all Gaels points over the team’s last five games.JUMPING FOR JORDAN: Ford has connected on 41.2 percent of the 204 3-pointers he’s attempted and has gone 10 for 24 over the last three games. He’s also converted 82.2 percent of his free throws this season.DEFENSIVE DISRUPTION: Saint Mary’s is 19-0 when it limits opponents to 44.8 percent or worse from the field, and 7-7 whenever opponents shoot better than that. Gonzaga is 30-0 when it allows 51.8 percent or less from the field and 0-2 whenever opponents exceed that mark.BEHIND THE ARC: Saint Mary’s’s Fitts has attempted 151 3-pointers and connected on 39.7 percent of them, and is 8 for 25 over the past five games.DID YOU KNOW: The Gonzaga offense has recorded a turnover on only 15.6 percent of its possessions, which is the 16th-best rate in the country. The Saint Mary’s defense has forced opposing teams to turn the ball over on just 18 percent of all possessions (ranked 251st among Division I teams).___ St. Mary’s, Gonzaga meet in WCC
On paper, it would appear that the Badger defense had itself a great day against Western Illinois on Saturday afternoon.The Leatherneck offense accounted for exactly three points and three interceptions, put up 246 total yards of offense to the Badgers’ 336, and was generally unable to conjure up any sort of rhythm in moving the football down the field at Camp Randall Stadium.But the consensus among Wisconsin personnel was that the defense could have performed much, much better.”I don’t think we tackled well,” UW head coach Bret Bielema said. “I counted on four occasions — two in the first half and two right away in the second half — where we should have been off the field on third down if we just make the tackles. That concerns me because that is a basic element of football that we’ve got to have instilled in their minds.”Western Illinois’ success on third downs told the story of Bielema’s frustration. UW allowed their Division I-AA opponent to move the chains on eight out of 16 third-down opportunities — a disappointing 50 percent rate.”We want to stop those drives and we want to get the defense off the field, because if we’re off the field, they don’t score points,” senior safety Roderick Rogers said. “We want to keep those drives short and we want to go three-and-out.”On the flip side: While the UW defense allowed Western Illinois to convert on eight of 16 third-down plays, Wisconsin’s offense did one better with a 9-for-16 conversion rate.Badger quarterback John Stocco completed four passes on third downs to move the chains and also scampered for six yards on another conversion.”I think we were pretty good on third downs,” Stocco said. “That’s something that we want to be good at as an offense.”Picks a’plenty: Linebacker Mark Zalewski, safety Joe Stellmacher and cornerback Allen Langford all pulled down interceptions at the expense of Leathernecks quarterback Steve LaFalce.In addition, Stellmacher would have picked off a second pass had UW linebacker Mike Newkirk not inadvertently tipped the ball out of harm’s way, and cornerback Jack Ikegwuonu nearly got into the act late in the game, letting a potential INT slip through his hands.”I had the running back man-to-man, I see the quarterback threw it, it was coming right towards me, and Newkirk just kind of threw his body in there and knocked it down, so it’s kind of disappointing,” Stellmacher said of his chance at a second pick. “But [we] made the play anyways, [and] got off the field.”Stellmacher joked that Newkirk, a second-string defensive tackle, can at least bask in the glory of making his mark on the stat sheet, as he was credited with a defended pass.”He took one away from me, [I’ll] let him treasure that one.”Goal-line stand: The Badgers also held the Leathernecks in check with a stop late in the third quarter, when Western Illinois had a third-and-one situation at the Wisconsin 3-yard line. Defensive tackle Nick Hayden brought down WIU running back Herb Donaldson for a one-yard loss, bringing up fourth-and-two.Then, defensive end Matt Shaughnessy snuffed out a Leathernecks trick play with LaFalce catching a pass from WIU’s Alex Douglas on the left side. Shaughnessy brought down LaFalce for a two-yard-loss, turning the ball back over to the UW offense.”It was just an incredible heads-up play by Matt Shaughnessy, and it’s an example of why we think he can be an exceptional player here,” Bielema said.Quick hits: Isaac Anderson recorded his first career reception. The true freshman out of Minneapolis, Minn., hauled in a 20-yard pass from Stocco on a third-and-six play in the second quarter, good for Wisconsin’s third-longest play from scrimmage in the game … Western Illinois did not produce any passing plays amassing 20 yards or more, and did not run for 10 or more yards on any carry … Stocco’s last completion of the afternoon, a 24-yard touchdown catch by Andy Crooks, was the 400th of his career. Stocco is now third on Wisconsin’s all-time completions list, and stands just 15 catches away from the second-place signal caller Brooks Bollinger … Taylor Mehlhaff, who did not have any field goal attempts in UW’s first win over Bowling Green, connected on both his attempts Saturday, including a 46-yarder at the end of the first half, tying his career best … the attendance at Camp Randall Stadium was announced as 80,845. It was the 19th consecutive sellout for Wisconsin at home.