Good (late) morning. Back with our day after San Diego State post following Tuesday’s 79-76 loss to the Aztecs, one of the most impressive teams I’ve seen come into the MAC in my fourth year covering GU.
—Just watched the last few minutes of the replay, including the play in which Elias Harris suffered his injury.
Harris limped off the floor seconds later, grabbing at his right heel. As mentioned in the game story, Harris said he believes it’s his Achilles’ tendon. An MRI is scheduled for today. We’ll keep you updated on the blog and on Twitter.com/SRjimm.
Prior to the injury, Harris was having one of the toughest nights of his career. He played 31 minutes, but was limited to just four shots (making one) and three boards. Defensively, Harris fell for at least two pump-fakes that led to SDSU baskets. He wasn’t alone in that category.
“He wasn’t (himself) tonight,” coach Mark Few said. “We’ve got to get him back playing like he’s capable of.”
Harris wasn’t the only interior defender to struggle against SDSU’s talented and experienced front court. Olynyk, Dower and Sacre also were victimized at times. SDSU worked over GU’s bigs on the boards, too, with 18 offensive rebounds and a 39-29 advantage overall. On key late possessions, SDSU got three shots at the basket and four attempts on another.
“They were basically a step ahead of us,” Harris said.
“They’re a physical team, we knew that coming in and that’s how they score a lot of their baskets,” Sacre said. “They just went after the boards hard. We have to work on our rebounding, but we’ll be all right.”
—The Zags relied heavily on Steven Gray, who delivered time after time. He was the only Zag with a field goal in the last 10 minutes. GU had mixed success on its last couple possessions. Gray worked off a Sacre screen, reversed back to his left and scored from close range with 23.6 seconds left to trim the deficit to one.
The Aztecs were one of the worst FT shooting teams (62.1 percent) in the nation last season, but Leonard (72.6% FT shooter last year) made two freebies to give SDSU a 79-76 lead.
GU turned to Gray, who took a pass from Olynyk out front and was ready to work off an Olynyk screen. But Billy White, who torched the Zags for 30 points, poked the ball loose and it ricocheted off Gray’s knee toward the scorer’s table. Gray raced over to make a desperation save, but the ball went to Chase Tapley. The Aztec guard was fouled but missed the free throw.
Manny Arop grabbed the rebound, passed sideways to Sacre who dribbled once and fed Gray, who had no choice but take a catch-and-release 40-footer that fell short.
“Steven had a phenomenal game,” Sacre said.
—Beyond the defending and rebounding woes, Gonzaga also had several costly turnovers down the stretch. The Bulldogs finished with 14 turnovers, seven in each half. Five of those came in the final 9 minutes, including a pair of Sacre passes that were intercepted by Aztecs.
“A couple bonehead turnovers at key junctures,” Few said.
Sacre and Olynyk each had four turnovers. Gray had six. They were the only three players with turnovers.
—James Rahon, who played 29 minutes off the SDSU bench, had 12 points (2 of 2 3s), four boards and two assists. Brian Carlwell, 6-11 and 300 pounds, added eight points and two boards.
Rahon played against GU twice as a
“The difference between last year’s team and this year’s team is Rahon,” Few said of the Aztecs. “He’s a weapon.”
STATS OF NOTE
-Gray and Sacre scored 16 of GU’s first 17 points.
-Gray scored 35 of team’s 76. Sacre was the only other player in double digits with 13.
-Leading 36-29 late in the first half, SDSU had built a 12-0 edge in bench points. GU’s only three points off the bench in the first half were courtesy of Mathis Mönninghoff’s three-point play with 1:58 left. The Aztecs had a 22-9 advantage by game’s end.
-SDSU coach Steve Fisher earned his 200th career win in his 12 seasons at the school.
-The Aztecs are 5-4 in their last nine games against ranked opponents.
-Goodson’s three-game totals: 6.3 points per game, 12 assists, three turnovers (avg. 25.7 minutes per game).
-SDSU shot 50 percent in the first half and 51.7 percent in the second half. GU wasn’t far behind — 44.4 percent first half and 52 percent second half.
-Gray averaging 25.7 points per game.
White: “Coach (Fisher, after a film session Monday night) said, ‘We’re a better team.’ They’re a great team and play hard. Only four teams have beaten them in this house and we just stuck together.”
Harris: “The good thing, if there’s a good thing in a loss, is we can fix it. We can work on rebounding and not turning the ball over that much.”
Sacre on whether other players stepped up to help Gray: “I think some guys really stepped up. Meech played really well. It’s still a growing process. We had a tough loss to
Few on White: “Unbelievable. He was really impressive. He played with great poise and for him to step out and hit two 3s and make big basket after big basket, some after putbacks, but some just being opportunistic along the baseline and finding openings.”
Few on SDSU: “They just didn’t have a weakness. We couldn’t play off everybody. We watched teams try to double and their shooters just make you pay on the perimeter. They play with great poise, and they hit great shots. Meech was draped all over Gay on a couple occasions and he hit some big ones.”
White: “This is a tough crowd, a tough venue to play in, and that’s a great team out there. It was just a great game. They gave us all they got; we gave them all we got. This means a lot to our program.”