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Day after USC Upstate

Back with the day after USC Upstate post. GU hammered the visitors 90-40, but the Spartans did take home $70,000, their second biggest payday of the season (Notre Dame forked out $90,000).

Read on for more.

 


—It was Gonzaga’s Senior Night, and the five seniors (Josh Heytvelt, Jeremy Pargo, Micah Downs, Ira Brown and Andrew Sorenson) probably couldn’t have asked for a better sendoff, particularly Sorenson, who tossed in 15 points in 19 minutes, both easily career highs for the former walk-on.

After the game, each senior had a minute or two to address the crowd over the P.A. system.

“Yeah, baby,” Sorenson began. “I’ve got to admit I have no idea what I’m going to say!”

The crowd went crazy, of course.

Sorenson later did TV and radio interviews as well as a session with the print media. Having gotten to know Sorenson fairly well the last two years, I jokingly called him ‘ball hog’ and that launched Sorenson into his first story. He said a fan came up to him after the game and cracked, ‘The word is ‘pass,’ Andrew. Is that in your vocabulary?’

Not so much on Tuesday. But ‘shot’ certainly was. He put up 11 of them, made five, and went 3 of 9 on 3s. He’s 10 of 21 on 3s this season.

“I wasn’t going to stop shooting,” he said.

—What some GU fans might not realize is that Sorenson, the former walk-on who was awarded a scholarship earlier this season, has improved quite a bit the last four years. When Sorenson was cut during tryouts as a freshman, assistant coach Tommy Lloyd told Sorenson he wasn’t a Division I athlete. Sorenson nodded, and then went back to work. He played for a couple hours a day, came back for tryouts the next year and Lloyd told him he’d earned an opportunity to be on the team.

“Andrew can play,” head coach Mark Few said. “He can shoot it. There have been times for us this year we’ve almost thrown him in right at the end of games, but I just thought it might be a little rough with no preparation really. He’s just an incredible teammate.”

“If you watch practices,” Brown said, “he’ll steal the show in those sometimes,”

“He does that to us in practice all the time,” Heytvelt said. “It kind of makes us angry, but he was really spectacular tonight. He wasn’t afraid to get the ball up, he shot it well and I’m just glad he could go out like that.”

—Brown scored seven points, had six rebounds, three assists, two steals and a blocked shot on 7-foot-3 Nick Schneiders. Brown wasn’t able to finish off a lob pass with a dunk, but he coaxed in a nifty reverse layup.

Brown has been slowed by an ankle injury suffered in GU’s last home stand against Pepperdine.

“It’s getting better,” he said, “but I didn’t get up at all” on the lob pass.

—Few had nothing but praise for the five seniors.

On Pargo: “Jeremy’s personality is so incredible. And another thing you don’t know about Jeremy is he’s maybe missed one day of practice in four years, which is incredible. These seasons beat you up.”

On Heytvelt: “His change, that’s just remarkable for any human being. To be part of it, to see it, nothing makes you feel better than that.”

On Downs: “Micah was kind of lost (after transferring from Kansas) and needed a place where he could stay for a while. (Downs’ maturation) has been great to see.”

On Brown: “Ira is just a great person to be around.”

On Sorenson: “He’s an incredible story.”

Stats of note:

—Pargo had seven assists and no turnovers. He has 22 assists and three turnovers in GU’s last five games.

—Austin Daye had two blocks, giving him 60 for the season, breaking Ronny Turiaf’s single-season record of 59 in 2005. Daye had 54 last season, fourth on the list.

—Daye had 10 points and seven boards. He has 200 rebounds on the season. Heytvelt, who had eight boards Tuesday, has 198.

—Matt Bouldin’s five steals was one short of Kyle Dixon’s school record six in 1995. Quentin Hall had five against Florida in the 1999 NCAA Tournament. Bouldin has 46 steals this season and figures to move well into the single-season top 10 list at his current pace. Pargo (2007), Dixon and Scott Spink (1994) are tied for 10th at 48.

—Chris Pontarolo-Maag scored the first field goal of his career. The walk-on made a layup with 45 seconds left. He had a free throw against Pepperdine.

QUOTEBOOK

Few, on Gonzaga’s defensive approach: “We wanted to get after them on defense and create things with our defense. I think everybody was incredibly unselfish. We shared the ball; we had four turnovers.”

Heytvelt, on finishing the regular season strong: “We went to work. We kept them to 40, we scored 90. I think everybody scored (actually 10 of 11). I couldn’t be happier with a win like that.”

Few, on whether he had fun during the game: “It was fun. Upstate has won some games recently so you’re always a little nervous, but once the guys came out and got after it on the defensive end, I knew that was a good sign.”

 


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