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Zags fall to Memphis for fourth straight year

Back with the game story from Gonzaga’s 68-50 pratfall against Memphis in front of 11,339 at the Arena and a national television audience on ESPN.

Read on for the unedited article below and check back for a day-after post on Sunday.

By Jim Meehan

Staff writer

Memphis coach John Calipari watched the final seconds tick away and shook hands with Gonzaga counterpart Mark Few in front of the scorer’s table.

“As good as we can play,” Calipari offered.

The Bulldogs couldn’t come close to saying the same. The 14th-ranked Tigers dominated No. 18 Gonzaga in every way possible, leading by as many as 26 en route to a 68-50 men’s basketball victory Saturday in front of 11,339 at the Arena.

Gonzaga’s nine-game winning streak came to an abrupt halt. The Bulldogs (17-5) were limited to their lowest point total of the season (by 14) and suffered their second worst shooting performance (36.7).

It was Gonzaga’s most lopsided loss in Spokane since an 80-56 setback to Pepperdine in Feb., 1991.

“They got us in every phase,” Few said. “They just played a lot harder and a lot tougher than us. You better match their energy and intensity or else. Obviously they’re quite a bit more athletic than us. You have to fight them a little better than that.”

The expected showdown of teams that rule their respective conferences never materialized. Gonzaga had eight field goals and 11 turnovers – four by Jeremy Pargo in a two-minute, 30-second stretch – while falling behind 40-23 at half. Gonzaga’s biggest deficit this season had been 15 in the January matchup with Tennessee.

It got worse before it got better. The Tigers stifled Gonzaga’ primary offensive weapons, dominated the glass and led 60-34 with 8:44 remaining. At that point, Few benched starters Pargo, Austin Daye and Matt Bouldin, who didn’t score his first point until eight minutes had elapsed in the second half.

“It was time to look at somebody else,” Few said. “The starters weren’t doing anything.”

With Demetri Goodson, Ira Brown, Josh Heytvelt, Steven Gray and Micah Downs on the floor, Gonzaga scored 13 unanswered points. The Bulldogs closed within 12 on Brown’s three-point play with 1:26 left, but the Tigers made their last six free throws.

Point guard Tyreke Evans had 22 points to lead Memphis (20-3) to its 14 consecutive win, the second longest streak in the nation. The Tigers have defeated Gonzaga four straight years.

“They were just pressuring us,” said Daye, who scored six points. “We’re probably one of the best teams at taking care of the ball the last two years and we just didn’t do it. We were really sloppy. I mean, when’s the last time we scored 50 points?”

The Zags scored 52 against Santa Clara in the WCC Tournament last year and 47 in a loss to Washington State.

“We should never have a problem running our sets,” said Bouldin, who was shut down by 6-foot-6 senior Antonio Anderson. “They just forced us out of everything because they played harder.”

Memphis forward Robert Dozier had 18 points and 10 rebounds. He also limited Daye to his second lowest scoring game of the season.

“We scouted him,” Dozier said. “He had a history of getting frustrated once guys bump him and play him physical, so I just tried to do that.”

The Tigers outrebounded GU 39-25 and had a 14-2 edge in second-chance points. Evans, a smooth 6-foot-6 freshman who repeatedly penetrated and either scored or found open teammates, also had six rebounds.

The trio of Bouldin, Gray and Pargo combined for 62 points in Thursday’s win over Portland. They had 13 points on 4-of-20 shooting against the Tigers. Downs led GU with 13 points, including 3 of 3 on 3-pointers.

“Evans did a great job at point,” Few said, “and their 4s and 5s just throttled us. We really didn’t have anything we could go to.”

Gonzaga faces Saint Mary’s in Moraga on Thursday.


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Jim Meehan (@srjimm) Jim Meehan's coverage areas include Gonzaga University men's basketball, Spokane Shock football, golf and volleyball. He also contributes to the SportsLink Blog.

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Chris Derrick Chris Derrick is a sports reporter. His primary coverage areas are the Spokane Chiefs, Spokane Indians, women's basketball and high school softball and volleyball. He also contributes to the SportsLink Blog.

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Sean Kramer Sean Kramer is a freelance correspondent who covers the University of Idaho football team and men's basketball team.

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Vince Grippi is the online producer for SportsLink, a product of The Spokesman-Review.

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