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Day after Santa Clara

Back with the day-after post from Gonzaga’s 88-51 trampling of Santa Clara.

Same drill as always. First, the links: S-R gamer, John Blanchette’s column on GU’s decade of WCC rule, photos, A.P., WCC recaps can be found here, and here’s an Oregonian article on San Francisco, GU’s opponent Saturday, losing at Portland (Dior Lowhorn scores seven points in the first three minutes, then shutout the rest of the way?) While we’re at it, here’s an S-I article on foreign players making an impact at U.S. schools (much of it centers on GU’s Elias Harris).

Read on for more.


—Gonzaga’s offense was steady throughout. GU shot 57.1 percent in the first half, 57.6 percent in the second half. The finished product (57.4 percent) was Gonzaga’s second highest best of the WCC season (Jan. 14, Saint Mary’s, 58.7 percent).

Meanwhile, Santa Clara’s 34 percent shooting, boosted by 30 points in the final 10:35, was the second lowest against Gonzaga (Feb. 20, Pepperdine, 27.1 percent).

GU held Augustana to 40 points. In WCC play, Portland scored 49 three weeks ago, San Diego 50 in mid-January and Santa Clara 51 last night. Gonzaga’s 37-point win was by far its easiest in league play. The previous high was 27 vs. Portland.

—The Broncos had 15 points at halftime.

“You know we we’re playing defense,” center Rob Sacre said. “We knew they were going to come out and shoot 3s, so we tried to shut that down. (Marc) Trasolini hit four 3s down there. We knew he was going to come off stagger screens and a bunch of screens. We just needed to amp up our intensity.”

Demetri Goodson started out guarding SCU’s Robert Smith. The talented freshman had a miserable night: 0 of 10 shooting, 0 of 3 on 3s, zero points, two assists and two turnovers in 35 minutes. Smith had 13 points and five assists against GU in the first meeting. In the first half and early in the second, Steven Gray (pictured above) and Matt Bouldin took turns defending Smith when Goodson was out of the lineup.

“It was nice to see everyone really committed to defense for that first half,” Gray said. “Everyone was busting their tail.”

—The Bulldogs have a piece of the WCC title, but they want the whole thing. To do that, they’ll have to defeat San Francisco, which beat Gonzaga last month.

“I feel like we don’t want to share the title, it’s bigger than that because San Francisco took a game from us,” Sacre said. “The title isn’t a little thing, but right now it’s all about getting revenge because we lost to them and we need to come out fired up and get what we deserve.”

Gray agreed. “We put in so much time coming into the season with people doubting us or having low expectations. We hold ourselves to the highest standard and that doesn’t mean sharing the title. We’ve just worked too hard.”

—Gray is looking forward to Saturday’s game.

“That whole little stretch (first time around against LMU, Pepperdine, USF, Santa Clara) was more of us going through the motions, somehow finding ways to win and not playing anywhere near as hard as we need to,” he said. “Forty minutes is all that separates us from our league title. That factor alone changes how hard we’re going to play. We know it’s not going to be easy.”

—The Bulldogs got the ball inside, hit open perimeter shots and ran in transition after forcing SCU turnovers. Matt Bouldin, who couldn’t find his shooting stroke (2 of 9), had five assists, three going to Sacre for dunks/layups. Kelly Olynyk’s lob pass to Elias Harris for a dunk capped a quality possession.

After making its first 10 shots against Pepperdine, Gonzaga made its first six against SCU.

“We were just really focused on moving our bodies, coming off screens, curling, getting things going to the basket,” Gray said. “It’s hard for any team to guard when you have players constantly in motion and bigs that are going to seal and set screens. It took us however many games, but we’re starting to understand what coach (Few) is talking about when he says how much better we are offensively when we’re moving around.”

—Gray scored in just about every conceivable fashion. He drained three 3s in the first six-plus minutes. He hit floaters, mid-range jumpers and scored on the break. He got to the free-throw line (3 of 4). Gray finished 10 of 12 from the floor.

“Obviously we’ve been waiting for Steven to bust out. He would have had a game like that against Pepperdine but he had some foul trouble,” Coach Mark Few said. “Throughout the league, he hasn’t shot the ball very well, and that’s not very Steven-like. You just knew it was a matter of time. He’s a good shooter and a confident player.”

Few said Gray has continued to defend and rebound, even when his shot wasn’t falling.

Stats of note: Goodson didn’t have a turnover for the third time in four games. Over the last five games, he has 10 assists and two turnovers in 126 minutes. … GU against struggled at the foul line: 13 of 26. Goodson was 2 of 6, Sacre 1 of 4. Santa Clara was 3 of 10 in the first half and 13 of 25 overall. … Olynyk tied his season high with seven rebounds. … Bol Kong tied his season high with 12 points. … Mike Hart had his second field goal (both 3s) of the season. … Trasolini had five blocks and four 3s in the first meeting. He had no blocks and one 3 in the rematch. … Outside of Trasolini’s 13 points, SCU’s other four starters combined for eight points. … SCU had just four assists. … At half, the Broncos had five points from Trasolini, Smith and Niyi Harrison. Those three combined for 39 points in the first contest.

Manny Arop grabbed five rebounds in 17 minutes, a fairly common stat for him. For the season, he has 97 boards in 315 minutes (he gets a rebound roughly every 3.26 minutes). Harris is GU’s leading rebounder with 215 (one every 3.8 minutes). Sacre averages one every 4.7 minutes, Bouldin and Gray both essentially one every 7.6 seconds.

You’ll recall Gonzaga outscored SCU 26-6 over the last 13 minutes of the first game. If you add in the first 28 minutes of Thursday’s game, Gonzaga outscored SCU 86-27 over a 41-minute stretch.

QUOTEBOOK

Few on not cutting the nets down: “We didn’t even think about it. We’re all kind of focused on trying to get a sweep this weekend.”

Sacre on Gray’s shooting: “He was pure water.”

Olynyk on Gray’s shooting: “He came out firing, hitting. We just have find ways to get him the ball when he’s in that situation and I think Matt and Demetri did a great job of that.”

Few on USF: “They beat us and we kind of put them on a roll. Since our game, they’ve been shooting the heck out of it and beating everybody in the league. They’ve done a nice job, changed their lineup a little bit and they’re playing off the 3-point shooters. … They know they can beat us; we’ll definitely need to play well.”

Few on GU’s fast start: “It’s a great feeling when they take the game plan and come out with the intensity and desire and fire in their belly that we want them to have.”


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