It wasn’t their most efficient night, but the Gonzaga Eagles found a way to grind out a 54-40 win against the St. John’s Cadets on Feb. 4 in a battle of Washington, D.C. private schools.

After a disappointing loss the previous night to Paul VI Catholic, Gonzaga got off to a fast start until the scoring dried up. But a lockdown defensive performance in the second half got The Washington Post’s sixth-ranked local team back on track.

After jogging out to a 20-13 lead after the first quarter, Gonzaga’s offense came to a screeching halt, as they would score just 34 points the rest of the game. Playing two games in two nights may have been the source of Gonzaga’s struggles, but sophomore point guard Nate Britt did his best to get his team over the hump.

On a night where his production was much needed, Britt came up with important basket after an important basket. When he wasn’t directing the offense, Britt was the offense, dropping in feathery jump shots and sinking long-range three-pointers. Britt scored a game-high 20 points and demonstrated why Georgetown, Duke and the University of Miami are recruiting the second-year guard.

“He’s been logging a lot of minutes over the last few days, really the whole season for us and tonight and when we needed him the most he stepped up big time whether it was getting somebody the ball or scoring it himself,” said Gonzaga coach Steve Turner.

After St. John’s sliced a double-digit deficit to six points late in the fourth quarter, Britt responded with a pair of baskets to push Gonzaga’s lead to 10 points. Although Britt was spearheading the Gonzaga offense, it was his approach on defense that sparked the team. Gonzaga held St. John’s to just 15 second half points, forcing the Cadets into their second lowest scoring output of the season.

“We needed a and we found a way to get it,” Turner said. “Even though the game got ugly at times we found a way to get stops and make plays down the stretch to win the game.”

Gonzaga (16-5) will return to action with a home game on Feb. 6 against Bishop Ireton. St. John’s (11-10) will also face Bishop Ireton next, on Feb. 8.

 

Stephen D. Riley

Special to the AFRO