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Gonzaga cools off Waves, 63-44

With its top two scorers battling illness, Gonzaga had a number of players contribute in a 63-44 win over Pepperdine. Elias Harris had 15 points and 11 rebounds and Sam Dower added 13 points and eight rebounds.

Read on for my game story and check back tomorrow for a day-after post.

By Jim Meehan

Staff writer

MALIBU, Calif. – Robert Sacre’s stomach was in turmoil most of Friday and Saturday, but he was happy about one thing: He didn’t get his roommate, Sam Dower, sick on the road trip.

Elias Harris had his third double-double of the season and Dower, filling in for Sacre, chipped in 13 points as the Gonzaga men’s basketball team cooled off the Pepperdine Waves, 63-44, in front of 2,484 Saturday at Firestone Fieldhouse.

Gonzaga (17-9, 7-3 WCC) has moved from a tie for fourth place two weeks ago into a tie for second with San Francisco, which lost at home to Saint Mary’s. Pepperdine, winners of four of its last six, dropped to 11-17, 5-6. The Waves never led and didn’t have a player reach double figures.

Sacre and Steven Gray spent part of Friday at the hospital getting IVs to help combat their illness.

“The night I made fun of Steven for getting sick (Thursday), I was up every two hours throwing up,” Sacre said with a smile. “That’s karma. Note to self: Never make fun of your teammate. I’m just glad we got a win and our bench came in and really produced because we really needed it.”

With Sacre limited to 10 minutes and Gray still battling an upset stomach, Gonzaga needed others to step up and a number of Zags did just that. Harris had 11 of his 15 points in the first half as Gonzaga took a 33-20 lead.

“I’m trying to go back to my old game and this weekend it worked out well for me,” Harris said. “I just have to try to keep it rolling.”

Dower played 29 minutes and came up with a team-high six field goals. He missed his first three shots, but recovered to make 6 of his last 11. He also had two blocks and two steals.

“Rob was sick, so I knew I had to step up,” said Dower, who also had eight rebounds. “My shots weren’t falling, but the coaches kept telling me, ‘Keep shooting, those are your shots and they’ll go in.’ They eventually went in.”

Marquise Carter had eight points, a season-high seven assists, five rebounds and four steals. David Stockton had another nice night off the bench with seven points and Mike Hart grabbed five boards in nine minutes. Gray contributed seven points and was the primary defender on Pepperdine’s Mychel Thompson. Demetri Goodson chipped in six points and a pair of assists.

Much like Thursday’s grind-it-out win over Loyola Marymount, the Bulldogs won this one with defense. Pepperdine, playing without leading scorer Keion Bell, who was suspended last week for the remainder of the season, has had a couple of hot hands in Thompson and Lorne Jackson, but they combined to go 5 of 27. Pepperdine made just 27.4 percent of its shots, including 2 of 15 3-pointers.

“Our defense was great. It was pretty good all weekend,” Gonzaga coach Mark Few said. “We contested shots all weekend and we made (Pepperdine) take tough shots.”

Thompson, one of four Waves honored in pre-game Senior Night ceremonies, had a miserable night. Gonzaga scored the game’s first seven points before Thompson made a 3-pointer with 17:09 left. He missed his next six shots before connecting on another 3 with 13:10 left in the second half.

“He’s a great shooter and good off the bounce, too,” said Hart, who defended Thompson when he subbed in for Gray. “We just tried to make everything hard for him.”

Thompson’s 3-pointer pulled the Waves within 11 and they’d get as close as 10 before Stockton made a 6-footer on the baseline, triggering a 13-4 run that sealed GU’s win. Stockton had a 3-pointer and Carter added four points in the spurt.

“Our job is to get the offense going and get stops on defense,” Stockton said of the bench’s role.

Thompson, Jackson and Taylor Darby combined for 47 points in Pepperdine’s 92-75 loss in Spokane. The trio scored just 21 in the rematch. Jackson committed six turnovers.

“The road has been really tough on us, but we’re starting to understand what we have to do,” Carter said. “We have to play hard and play defense. We’ve been showing we can play defense and it’s helped us out a lot.”

Gonzaga entertains Santa Clara and San Francisco next week.

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Jim Meehan
Jim Meehan joined The Spokesman-Review in 1990. Jim is currently a reporter for the Sports Desk and covers Gonzaga University basketball, Spokane Empire football, college volleyball and golf.

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