Gonzaga still hasn’t figured out how to regain its offensive prowess with Przemek Karnowski missing. Its next game could provide an opportunity to keep working on a solution without having to worry about the scoreboard.
After losing to a pair of Pac-12 opponents in their past three contests, the Bulldogs will face Division II Saint Martin’s on Monday night.
Gonzaga (6-3) averaged 81.2 points and 51.0 percent shooting while connecting on 38.4 percent of its 3-pointers in the first five games. Since Karnowski has been dealing with back spasms, the Bulldogs have seen their scoring output drop to 64.8 in the past four contests while shooting 42.1 percent and 26.7 from beyond the arc.
Their 41.0 percent shooting proved just enough of a hindrance in a 71-66 loss to UCLA on Saturday. Four Bulldogs scored in double figures, led by Kyle Wiltjer with 20 points and Domantas Sabonis with 18, but they also had four who totaled four points on 2-for-11 shooting.
Gonzaga’s last three games have been decided by a combined 13 points, with a 68-63 loss to then-No. 19 Arizona on Dec. 5 and a 61-58 victory against a 3-5 Montana on Tuesday. It will likely have to endure Karnowski’s absence for at least a few more games as his ailment has reportedly kept him from even sitting on the bench.
“(Karnowski is) huge. I don’t know if he’s our best player, but he’s our most valuable player,” coach Mark Few said. “Offensively, he’s a load that people have to deal with and he’s probably our best passer.
“But he’s not in. We’re still in position to win some of these games. We’ve just got to step up and make some plays.”
The Bulldogs will try to work out their kinks before Saturday’s Battle in Seattle against Tennessee, their final game before their West Coast Conference opener next Monday.
Saint Martin’s, which is treating this game as an exhibition, would appear an appropriate opponent to accomplish that goal while winning the finale of a four-game homestand.
The Saints (5-3) lost 86-62 at Idaho in its only other exhibition with a Division I opponent Oct. 30. Fred Jorg, a 7-foot center from Germany, is their leading scorer (11.3 points per game) and rebounder (7.0).