After 150 games over 107 years, Washington State and Gonzaga have played their final game for the foreseeable future. This is the final game on the current contract, and there is no known negotiations between the two athletic departments to renew the series.
No. 13 Gonzaga fended off the young Cougars late surge and walked away with a 69-60 victory. WSU’s slow start in the second half crippled the team’s chances to win the game as Gonzaga rebuilt their lead to 16 at one point.
The Zags are the ones that are bringing this rivalry to a close, as they forced WSU into two Spokane home games — one at MacCarthy Athletic Center, and one at the Spokane Arena — before Wednesday’s contest in Pullman. It’s tragic for the fans that the series is ending, but it apparently makes sense for head coach Mark Few to axe his rival to the south from his program’s schedule.
Gonzaga’s official line for ending the series is that they need to play a tougher non-conference schedule, especially with how weak the WCC is, and WSU’s struggles recently are causing problems for the team’s NCAA Tournament resume. Which is honestly laughable considering they are hosting Montana in six days, and have Montana State scheduled for 2016-17.
It seems that a Pac-12 squad would have a more significant impact on the consistence of a team’s strength of schedule than a Big Sky squad…but apparently Mark Few disagrees.
This isn’t the first time that Few has destroyed negotiations with an in-state rival, as his attitude made negotiations with the University of Washington impossible back in the mid-2000’s — Washington and Gonzaga played for the first time in nine years a couple of weeks ago. Few’s zealous drive to improve his team’s strength of has cost the program its two (consistent) non-conference rivals; which has left behind a lot of upset, and disappointed, fans…and nothing else.
There’s been no financial backlash for Few’s action, there’s been no impact on Gonzaga’s scheduling — none, seriously, none — so there’s no reason for the program to back track from it’s actions.
So, farewell Gonzaga…thanks for the memories.