Another late night with the Zags, who dismantled Notre Dame 73-53 on Wednesday, made later by watching the replay when I got home! Here are links: Game stories from S-R, The Observer and A.P, and the S-R photo gallery.
Day-after post below.
—I’ve seen Elias Harris play better, but I’m not sure I’ve seen him play harder. The junior forward finished with 11 points, 15 boards, four assists, one block and one steal in 34 minutes. He also played well defensively for the second straight game, this time holding Scott Martin without a field goal. Martin entered averaging 11.7 points per game and finished with one point.
“He’s a big key for us,” head coach Mark Few said. “He has a tendency to overanalyze things and try to be perfect and it kind of bogs him down. He needs to be an athlete. I told him that: ‘You need to make plays that athletes make.’ Hopefully this isn’t a one-game thing. Fifteen rebounds is unbelievable.”
Harris didn’t shoot particularly well (5 of 13), neither did Rob Sacre (6 of 15), but the two still combined for 26 points, 20 rebounds and seven assists against Notre Dame’s overmatched interior.
“Defensively we were pretty good,” N.D. coach Mike Brey said, “especially on their front line. But their defense made us very uncomfortable and we hurried things.”
—David Stockton capped a 15-point night by banking in a beat-the-shot-clock 29-footer from the ‘G’ on the Gonzaga lettering on the court. He also had three assists, three steals, three rebounds and three turnovers in 26 minutes.
“That one was pretty deep,” Stockton smiled. “Hitting that last shot always is a good feeling.”
Stockton made three 3s in the second half, the first two giving GU breathing room.
“Those (3s) gave us a little space,” Few said. “He’s playing really well right now. He’s getting his hands on balls and cutting down his turnovers. That’s a big key for us.”
In his last three games, Stockton has made 10 of 12 FGs, 6 of 6 3s and 5 of 6 FTs. He’s 6 of 8 on 3s this season.
—Kevin Pangos didn’t shoot particularly well (2 of 7 on 3s), but he had a couple of highlight-reel plays. Early in the first half he drove diagonally through the key and dropped a bounce pass to Harris for a layup (it was Pangos’ only assist). Later, near the 8-minute mark, he drove the right side of the lane, faked a pass to the wing that froze two defenders en route to a layup.
—Gonzaga’s defense forced 13 first-half turnovers, converted into 17 game-changing points. The Bulldogs finished with a 21-6 edge in points off turnovers (17-2 first half). Along the way, Gonzaga drew four charging fouls. Pangos and Hart drew charges on consecutive possessions.
Irish point guard Eric Atkins had a tough night. He was 0 of 6 from the floor in the first half with five turnovers. He finished with six points and six turnovers. Atkins led the Big East in assist-to-turnover ratio last season. Jerian Grant had 16 points, but also committed four turnovers.
“It was a struggle to make a pass at times,” Brey said. “We kind of hung out our point guard a little. That’s a concern as we move forward.”
Early on, Notre Dame was 3 of 17 from the field. The Irish finished at 38.5 percent.
STATS OF NOTE
—GU has had four double-figures scorers in every game this season.
—Mike Hart had a solid outing with four points, four rebounds and three steals in 13 minutes.
—Sacre, Harris and Sam Dower combined for nine assists. The team had 16.
—Dower and Hart were in foul trouble all night. Hart had four fouls, two in the first four minutes. Dower finished with four fouls in nine minutes.
—Gonzaga had a 38-28 edge in paint points and a 26-18 edge in bench points. Nine Zags scored in the first half, compared to Notre Dame’s four.
—Notre Dame came in shooting 38 percent on 3s, even with Tim Abromaitis’s 0 for 11 before he went down with a knee injury in practice last week. The Irish were 2 of 14 against GU, 0-5 in the second half. Grant, a 56-percent shooter from distance, was 0 of 3.
Stockton: “I still think we could have played a little better, but it was a good win.”
Sacre: “We played our game. They’re a Big East team so it was going to be a battle. We matched their intensity and just came out and played hard.”
Few on Hart and Stockton: “They’re not walk-ons, they’re players now, they’re players.They are playing significant minutes and they are playing important minutes. That’s how much we believe in them.” (Hart was awarded a scholarship for the second half of last season, but he’s not on scholarship currently.)
Sacre: “They’re all great shooters. I’m sorry they didn’t have Abromaitis, he’s a great player, but they have a lot of great shooters. We just needed to keep them off the 3-point line.”
Brey on loss of Abromaitis: “This is our team. I don’t want any of our guys saying, ‘Well, we don’t have Abromaitis so we can’t do anything.’ This is our group and we already played without him for a while but we’ve a lot of things to work on. I think our maturity level is still something that has to come. The great thing is that we get back to practice Friday and can get better before we go on the road again to play Maryland Sunday.”