skip navigation

Gonzaga Pulls Away To Down McNamara

By Marcus Helton, 02/13/24, 9:00AM EST


Nyk Lewis, Christian Gurdak and the Eagles pulled away in the second half.

Gonzaga at Bishop McnNamara. [Amina Helton for DMVelite.]

FORESTVILLE, MD - For the first half of Sunday’s Washington Catholic Athletic Conference matchup at Bishop McNamara, the Gonzaga Purple Eagles controlled the pace but found themselves in a tight contest as the Mustangs made tough shot after tough shot.

In the second half, the Eagles ratcheted up their defensive pressure, and their star junior class seized control en route to an 80-64 victory.

2025 guard Nyk Lewis had  27 points, 8 assists and 8 rebounds to lead Gonzaga, while 2025 center Christian Gurdak 20 points and 7 boards and 2025 guard Derek Dixon finished with 14 points.

“Staying in front, getting stops, and not giving up second-chance opportunities [were the keys],” Gonzaga coach Steve Turner said. “I thought our guards made very good decisions when to push the break, and when to just slow it up and run our offense. And when we can do things with running it through Christian, a lot of good things happen, and they were finding him in the second half. He made some plays for himself but he also made plays for others and when we’re moving the ball offensively, we’re dangerous. So if we can keep doing that and being consistent with sharing it, the sky’s the limit for this group.”

The 6-foot-9 Gurdak gave McNamara trouble from the opening tip, scoring 12 of his points in the first half.

“I look at it as if I get established inside, they’ve got to go zone or they’ve got to put two guys at me,” Gurdak said, “and that opens all of our outside shooters like Derek, Nyk, Will [Harper] - all our guys, B. Harp [Blake Harper], but that’s just me helping the team in my way. If I can score at the same time, that’s awesome, but just helping the team in that way so we can establish ourselves at all three levels of the game.”

The Eagles led 22-14 after one quarter, but McNamara stayed within striking range - they trailed just 36-33 at the break - behind tough drives to the basket and big shots from deep 3-point range.

As those shots stopped dropping in the second half, though, Gonzaga pressed the advantage, building a 58-47 lead after three quarters. They expanded it further being Lewis, Gurdak and Dixon.

“We wanted to make sure that they saw us in gaps and not give up easy opportunities at the rim,” Turner said. “They did get some when we stood up a couple of times and got some cheap fouls, but [McNamara coach Marty Keithline]’s guys do a great job of getting that shoulder down and getting to the rim, so that made it tough. We have to get better in that area and not give up those drives where we allow paint touches. But for the most part we took away their 3’s in the second half and didn’t allow them to what I like to say ‘use their super power’ against us, especially in their own gym.”

2026 guard Qaden Samuels had 23 points to lead McNamara, while 2026 wing Jalyn Collingwood added 12 and 2025 guard Jaren Curtis 10.

Now, Gonzaga is turning its attention to locking up the No. 2 seed in the upcoming WCAC tournament, which it can do with a win at St. John’s on Tuesday.

“That’s a solid seed,” Gurdak said. “We want to get [Paul VI] back in the championship, for sure. We lost one to them earlier this year and I know that’s a story, I guess, but we’re not worried about any of the story stuff; we’re just worried about getting a WCAC championship.”

Gurdak - who transferred into Gonzaga from PVI last summer - has looked right at home in purple this season.

“I mean Gonzaga is a great school,” he said. “I mean, they opened me in with open arms: the academic part, all the teachers, the students, the team, Coach Turner and the coaching staff have been awesome. I love being in DC - it's where I kind of grew up - and I couldn’t be happier with the move.”

Gonzaga at Bishop McnNamara. [Amina Helton for DMVelite.]