Just arrived home (small leak in the basement not exactly the welcome back I was hoping for), so we’ll get the day-after Tennessee post up. A lot to cover from Gonzaga’s 89-79 overtime victory. Read on.
—Gonzaga made the first adjustment to its starting five this season, inserting sophomore Steven Gray for senior Micah Downs. Gray delivered 14 points and six assists in 41 minutes. He made 5 of 6 free throws in the final 1:40 of overtime.
—Reserve center Will Foster has five DNPs (did not play) this season, but he came up big when called upon Wednesday. Foster entered with just under 18 minutes left when Josh Heytvelt picked up his third foul.
Foster did a nice job patrolling the middle of key in GU’s zone. He was credited with one blocked shot, but he altered numerous others. He also had a nice move around UT’s Brian Williams for a layup that gave Gonzaga a 55-51 lead.
“It was definitely pretty exciting for me to go out and play in a pretty big game,” Foster said.
He grabbed four rebounds in his eight minutes. Ira Brown played six minutes and came up with three points and three rebounds. Gonzaga has struggled to get quality minutes out of its backup posts since Robert Sacre re-injured his foot prior to the
“Huge,” Few said of Foster’s contributions. “In a great environment, he proves that he needs to play because what we’ve been missing is those rest minutes for Josh where we don’t end up with a size 29-inch waist for our ‘4’ or ‘5’. I think he can help us on the defensive end and with rebounding. We’ve been so terribly small with Micah at ‘4’ and Austin (Daye) at ‘5’. We’re just getting crushed. We’ve got to get at least an entity of size.”
“I’m proud of the way everybody played from the first guy to the 12th guy,” Heytvelt said. “Will performed really well. Ira performed really well. Matt (Bouldin) had a heck of a game. Steven knocked down free throws at the end.
“It was probably the best game we’ve had in month and a half.”
Foster was called for goal-tending twice, but there was no doubt he made an impact on the defensive end. Foster and Heytvelt also logged minutes at the same time, giving the Bulldogs a sizable front line.
—Few said he didn’t experience a complete flashback to the UConn game when
“The only thing is, that it was
Gonzaga turned the ball over on the inbounds play, which gave Smith a chance to hit his difficult shot.
“Tough shot,” said senior point guard Jeremy Pargo, who was defending Smith on the play. “He was falling. One of the things I didn’t want to do is foul him. Good thing I didn’t because he made the shot.”
Smith’s bucket figured to send
“Actually I thought (going overtime) was a great situation for us,” Pargo said. “We came back out and won the game. A great win for us.”
—Pargo has hit a rough patch of late. Prior to
In the first half against the Vols, Pargo made just 1 of 5 shots, had one assist and five turnovers. He rallied in the second half and in overtime, playing 21 turnover-free minutes. He finished with six points, six assists and four rebounds, including a big one after Heytvelt missed a free throw with 1:08 remaining.
Pargo’s two second-half field goals came at opportune times. The first was a pull-up jumper that gave GU a 61-55 lead. Later, he swiped a pass, avoided a defender’s reach by wrapping the ball completely around his body and finishing with a layin.
“In those huddles, when you look at your teammates’ eyes and see how much they want to win, you don’t want to be the reason for a loss,” Pargo said. “I’ve felt how it feels to be the reason for a loss and I didn’t want that feeling again.”
Bouldin, in particular, and Demetri Goodson and Gray also took turns handling the ball, lessening Pargo’s workload.
“He got a knee to the thigh really bad and that was bothering him,” Few said of Pargo. “These guys make you attack and when you attack them you have to pretty much make a play. So you get in there and sometimes it’s high risk. He was missing on them early, but I though he did a really nice job of finding Steven and Matt in the second half.”
—Gonzaga’s free-throw shooting, suspect at times this season, was dreadful through regulation. GU made just 8 of 19 before warming up in overtime (9 of 10). The Bulldogs came into the game shooting 70 percent at the stripe.
“The guys missing them early are theoretically good shooters,” Few said. “We were just about perfect in overtime. That was huge.”
Daye made 88.1 percent a year ago. He was at 73.1 percent entering Wednesday’s game. Gray made 83.3 percent last season. He was just under 71 percent prior to the UT game. Heytvelt, a 74.5 percent FT shooter, was just 2 of 6.
“I think it’s a mental thing, not a technique thing,” Daye said. “When that first one dropped in overtime, I said, ‘Thank you Jesus,’ and he helped me with the next three.”
Said Gray: “You want to make all of them. For me, the first free throws, I’m always a little tight.”
“They’re a team of runs, but again, we didn’t think they were as great a shooting team as the previous year,” Few said. “We kind of worked on staying in but we also talked about their personnel and Tatum was the one guy we didn’t want to give shots to. But I liked how we came back and I thought we showed some poise.”
In the previous GU-Tennessee game in
—Gonzaga held UT’s top three scorers (Wayne Chism, Tyler Smith and J.P. Prince) to a combined 13 points in the first half. Smith heated up to finish with 17 and Chism had 15 points and 19 rebounds (six offensive), but Prince struggled with 11 points on 4 of 12 shooting.
Chism and Smith had 10 of
“I was on Chism for a while and he’s so thick and the other guy, Williams, is thick, too,” Foster said. “It was definitely harder to push them around because sometimes I can get Josh off balance every now and then. And I definitely miss Rob at practice because he’s pretty much a brick wall.”
UT shot 36.3 percent (29 of 80) while GU was at 52.5 percent (31 of 59).
Heytvelt on how badly GU needed a win: “Like a kid needs his two front teeth for Christmas.”
Daye on picking up two fouls and playing just eight minutes in the first half: “Those two fouls were like a picture of what happened to me last year. Luckily the second half was a brand new half and I came back with a lot of fire and passion.”
Bouldin on finishing off an opponent after four narrow setbacks: “We’ve been having a hard time closing teams out. UConn, for instance, a guy hits a lucky shot, a great shot by Price. If he doesn’t knock that down we win that game.
Daye on the importance of the win: “We’ve fought through a lot of stuff this year. The schedule is pretty brutal. We lost a couple games that we shouldn’t have and coming here and getting a win, where they’ve won, what, 37 straight, that’s a big confidence booster.”