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Day after San Diego

Make that a long day after San Diego.

Adventures in travel, part 9,635: Up before 5 a.m., bumped off one flight for mechanical issues only to board another flight that was delayed 30 minutes by, you guessed it, mechanical issues. So I worked my way home through Seattle instead of Portland, put together this post on the first leg of the trip, but had to dash from the north satellite to the D gates at SeaTac and barely made my connection. My luggage made it, too. Back home, I can finally get this post, er, posted.

Read on for more from Gonzaga’s businesslike 68-50 win over San Diego on Saturday.

 


—Gonzaga coach Mark Few didn’t mind saying he “feels really good” after sweeping three road games to open the WCC campaign, not to mention how his team stocked with newcomers has handled the season to this point.

“What I’ve thrown at them, I thought it was going to be overwhelming when we saw how young we were on Oct. 15th,” he said. “Just the basic structure of our transition game was overwhelming for some of our new guys. Usually we just blow into that and we’re into our sets by the third practice. When you’re teaching help-side defense and ball-you-man in the third practice and staring at Michigan State and Maui, you worry you might get yourself buried, like some of those losses that piled up on San Diego. For where we are now, I’m ecstatic because we’ve thrown a lot at these guys, including having the first three on the road in league, which is kind of unheard of.

“But that can change in a week, so check back with me.”

—Demetri Goodson had one of his best offensive outings of the season. He scored 12 points, dished out five assists and even swatted a shot. He made his first 3-pointer in nine games (Wake Forest) and just his second 3 of the season. He had to wait for the 3-pointer to be registered as the officials went to the replay monitors before determining he was behind the arc.

The Toreros’ Matt Dorr backed off Goodson, who nailed the 3 from the right wing.

“I was trying to look for (open) guys, but also just cut and make it hard for guys to sag off me,” Goodson said.

Said Few: “Meech was great. We knew (San Diego coach) Billy (Grier) was going to play off him. He took what they were giving him and he was a real positive aspect on offense.”

—I was sitting probably 20 feet from Elias Harris when he fell hard to the court with 5:44 remaining in the contest. Harris’ right hip and lower back took the brunt of the fall and he was clearly in pain, grimacing as trainer Jen Nyland and Few came onto the court.

Harris limped to the bench and sat for two minutes before returning. He quickly made two field goals to finish with 20 points.

“They asked me if I could play and I said, ‘Yeah, it was still warm,’ ” he said.

Harris said he was tightening up a bit in the locker room afterward.

—Matt Bouldin had one of his quietest offensive nights of the season. He finished with six points and three assists. His season low was four points against Duke and Augustana (he suffered a concussion in the latter and didn’t seem quite at full speed in the former).

His lone first-half field goal was a 3-pointer with 30 seconds left that boosted GU’s lead to 33-22. His only second-half field goal was a reverse layup with 90 seconds remaining.

“He can hurt you in a lot of ways,” Few said. “We didn’t get to post him as much as we’d like, but with his passing and the way he’s been shooting the ball … he’s a great play-maker.”

—Harris had two assists, equaling his season high, and Sacre had a career-best three assists. The two were generally effective against USD double teams, either scoring or finding open teammates

—All five starters logged at least 30 minutes. Bouldin played 38 minutes after not missing a second in GU’s first two WCC games. Bol Kong led the bench minutes with 20. He had five rebounds and his 3-pointer extended Gonzaga’s lead to 10 with 13:05 left.

—Gonzaga held San Diego to two field goals and four free throws in the final 11-plus minutes. The two field goals came in the last 4:35. The Bulldogs closed out the game with a 15-6 run to pull away to the 18-point victory.

The Toreros struggled to score inside and outside. They made just 1 of 15 3s. Their interior players had a couple of putbacks, but not much else against Sacre, Harris, Kong and Kelly Olynyk.

“We’ve had several games where we shot over 50 percent, it’s just been a while,” said Grier, the former GU assistant. “The shots we took, a lot of them were tough and they had a lot to do with that. I thought two things really hurt us: Defensive transition and shot selection. Brandon (Johnson) and De’Jon (Jackson) are obviously two big players for us and good scorers. But when the flow of the game goes against us and they’re not knocking down shots, the rest of our guys kind of shut down when the ball is in their hands. We have to get back to them trusting their teammates and being willing to give up the ball.”

Added Grier: “Gonzaga’s length and size inside, we just had a tough time, other than penetration occasionally. Our bigs really had a tough time in there.”

—Few had some fun when a San Diego-area reporter phrased a question by saying Gonzaga had already defeated the main contenders (Portland and Saint Mary’s) in the WCC race. “I don’t know that yet,” he said, “but theoretically, I guess.”

—The potential for a letdown was obvious after Gonzaga had defeated Portland and Saint Mary’s, the preseason No. 2 and No. 3 selections in the WCC.

“They’re a scrappy team and they do everything to stop you,” Harris said of San Diego. “We competed well. We played our style and we were successful.”

Goodson wasn’t worried. “The guys were jumping around in the locker room ready to play,” he said. “We knew this was big for our team. In practice (Friday), guys were focused.”

QUOTEBOOK

Goodson on Harris’ fall: “I was kind of scared. Hopefully he’s not hurt. He’s a tough kid.”

Few on Gonzaga’s offensive execution through 17 games: “Through the whole journey we’ve been on we’ve spent a pretty good percentage of that time being efficient offensively. It’s just those bouts with turnovers that have hurt us.”

Few on San Diego: “What I see is they’ve had a really hard schedule, a schedule that’s worn on them. They’ve been in every game and played really good teams, and they’re right there at the end but guys have to make plays to get over the hump.”

Goodson on returning to play in the McCarthey Athletic Center for just the second time since Dec. 9th: “Finally, we get to play in front of our fans for once.”

Grier on GU’s transition offense: “They are so good in transition if you don’t concentrate for 40 minutes, they’re going to make you pay at some point in the game.” The Bulldogs did that twice in a 60-second span as Goodson found Steven Gray for open 3-pointers.

 

 


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