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Day after San Diego

Gonzaga's Will Foster  (45) blocks a shot in the second half of play in McCarthey Athletic Center Sat. Feb. 13, 2010. (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)
Gonzaga's Will Foster (45) blocks a shot in the second half of play in McCarthey Athletic Center Sat. Feb. 13, 2010. (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)

Back with the day-after post from Gonzaga's 82-65 win over San Diego on Saturday.

First the links: S-R gamer, S-R photosA.P., San Diego Union-Tribune (authored by S-R's John Blanchette) and WCC recaps.

--Gonzaga reversed its recent form Saturday. After three straight slow starts, the Bulldogs raced out to leads of 19-0 and 29-5 against the Toreros. San Diego battled back, getting as close as 10, but the Bulldogs pulled away in the second half for a relatively comfortable 17-point win.

“I did like that start,” Gonzaga coach Mark Few said. “That was a great indication that they were ready to go and our approach and intensity didn’t fall off. It’s hard to maintain that in a game like that and San Diego is going to keep trying and playing. But for the most part, I thought we did a nice job.”

San Diego had five turnovers by the 15:24 mark, when coach Billy Grier burned his second timeout. The Toreros started three freshmen. Their starting five had a combined scoring average of 21.4 points; Gonzaga’s 61.8.

To USD’s credit, it made a game of it and Gonzaga had to play its starters deep into the second half.

--Freshman wing Manny Arop scored a season-high 13 points and tied his season high with nine rebounds. Arop checked in with 16:56 left in the first half, but most of his damage came late with a basket in transition and a pair of free throws in the final four minutes. Arop made 4 of 4 field goals in the second half.

“Manny is an energy guy,” guard Matt Bouldin said. “He does so many good things on the floor. He plays so hard, he goes for offensive rebounds better than anyone on the team. He gets a lot of stops and he knocks down open shots.”

--Gonzaga is two games ahead of Saint Mary’s and Portland in the loss column after the Pilots defeated the Gaels in overtime Saturday night. GU is 9-1, SMC 8-3 and Portland 7-3. Gonzaga has already swept both teams, so it owns the tiebreakers.

“Obviously (the Pilots’ win) it’s not a surprise, Portland’s a really good basketball team. It’s a hard trip up here to play us and go play them,” Few said. “We have to take care of our own business. We have to play two teams (LMU and Pepperdine on the road this week) that we didn’t play particularly well against here, and they will think they have a great chance on their floor.”

Said Steven Gray: “We’ve been looking at controlling our destiny. Coach Few said to put on the blinders and see the finish line and power through it.”

--Mark Few’s winning percentage of 80.2 and change is first among active coaches. Roy Williams, at 80.2 percent and less change, is second. The two have basically been neck-and-neck at the top for years. Few is 285-70. Williams is 609-150.

--Bouldin has made 53.4 percent of his shots and is averaging 18.7 points in 10 WCC games. That’s lifted his season averages to 48.3 percent and 16.8 points. Bouldin’s scoring totals in the last seven games: 19, 19, 15, 20, 19, 18 and 16.

--Reserve center Will Foster maneuvered inside for a field goal and then fed Demetri Goodson for a layup on back-to-back Gonzaga possessions in the first half. He’s scored in nine straight appearances and he continues to see increased playing time. He went scoreless in seven of 12 appearances to open the season.

--Senior guard Brandon Johnson became San Diego’s all-time leading scorer. He needed five points coming into the game to break Gyno Pomare’s record and finished with 21. Johnson didn’t play Thursday because of a groin injury.

“He’s experienced,” Grier said of Johnson. “You play a team like this in this building with freshmen, it’s very difficult. Having his experience was part of us getting back in the game.”

Johnson came in with 12:23 remaining in the first half and didn’t leave until 46 seconds remained in the game.

“It means a lot,” Johnson said of the scoring record. “When I started out, it wasn’t my intention. I try to put heart out there every night. It comes with the territory. I guess I’ve played enough games, I feel like I should break one record. Tell everybody I love Gyno, but I finally got him.”

--A quiet night for Elias Harris, who had nine points and no rebounds (a career first) in 20 minutes. His playing time was limited by foul trouble (he finished with four). Harris had two rebounds against Wake Forest before he was ejected late in the first half. Saturday was just his seventh game below 10 points.

--Stats of note: Gonzaga is 72-4 at the McCarthey Athletic Center. GU’s 10 3-point attempts tied for its second lowest this season. Gonzaga failed to crack double digits in assists (9) for the fourth time this season. Rob Sacre, with 11 points, has reached double figures in four of the last five games. Eleven of GU’s first 17 points came off USD turnovers. The Bulldogs won the boards 34-27. They’ve won the glass in 20 of 25 games.

This is uncanny: Gonzaga made 24 of 36 free throws. That’s 66.7 percent, That’s two games in a row and four times in the last eight games. GU’s season average is 66.1.

QUOTEBOOK

Sacre on his improved scoring production of late: “I feel like I’ve got my second wind, later in the season. I’m ready to play some basketball.”

Few on Gonzaga’s defense: “Especially at the start, we wanted to apply some pressure and make it hard for them to get into offense. I think we did a really good job of that, we got a lot of deflections, which got our transition game going. That’s a huge key for us.”

Gray on the bench production: “What’s nice about our bench, there’s a whole group waiting to come in and get an opportunity. Kelly (Olynyk) can have a big night, Bol (Kong). Grant (Gibbs) has been given us great minutes. You know it’s going to come from someone.”

Bouldin on GU’s so-so play after building a big early lead: “Partly because we’re young and partly because we took it easy there for a while. When you get those big leads, you gotta sustain it. It’s really about being mature and getting it done. That’s something we’re only going to get better at.”




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Jim Meehan
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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