While sidelined all of last season with a broken leg, Gonzaga’s Bryant Crawford took note of the hostile environment that came with every road contest in Washington Catholic Athletic Conference play. But it wasn’t until the sophomore stepped to the line for two critical fourth-quarter free throws during Monday’s matchup at Paul VI that Crawford truly realized what he was up against.
“It was a big crowd last year but it’s nothing like being on the floor in that atmosphere,” Crawford said. “I got a little nervous there because I wasn’t expecting it to be so loud. But we still knew we had to pull through.”
Shaking off the anxiety while filling the void left by first-team All-Met Kris Jenkins’s suspension for an ejection in the prior contest, Crawford tallied 17 points and several critical assists to help the Eagles hold off Paul VI, 86-79 in Fairfax.
Along with being down a man, Gonzaga (2-0) also lacked the size to pound with Panthers big men Marcus Derrickson and Quadree Smith, and it showed early on. In the game’s opening eight minutes, the duo combined for seven points and nine rebounds to help Paul VI (0-1) build a 26-23 lead.