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Day after BYU

Not sure if I actually slept last night or if I simply dreamed that I slept for a couple hours. I’m guessing Gonzaga’s staff and players were pretty restless after a disappointing 83-73 setback to BYU last night at the Marriott Center.

So many things went wrong. Another stinker of a first half -- that’s two straight, after trailing Portland by four last Thursday. Three, really, counting the San Diego game (32-28 GU at the break). Another road test failed. GU is 11-1 at home and 3-0 on neutral courts but just 3-3 on the road with two double-digit WCC losses. Another rash of turnovers, an issue that has surfaced from time to time with GU this season. Another subpar performance in a big game.

First, the links: S-R game story, other reports by the Salt Lake Tribune (also here), Daily Herald (also here).

Read on for my day-after BYU post.

--Where to start after that one? Head coach Mark Few summed it up pretty well with his first post-game comment: “We were rattled, frazzled, played with no poise, no composure. Timeouts couldn’t stop it, substituting couldn’t stop it.”

The turnovers piled up so quickly in the first half it wasn’t easy keeping an accurate count. BYU started out in man-to-man but quickly went zone and pretty much stayed there when the Bulldogs’ passing and decision-making went south. GU had no luck shooting the Cougars out of the zone, making 3 of 19 3s. Mathis Mönninghoff missed three open 3s in the first half in a 65-second span.

BYU wasn’t particularly long but they were active in the zone, doubling out front while still being able to shadow Gonzaga’s bigs inside. The Cougars racked up 14 steals and 22 points off turnovers, 18 in the decisive first half.

“It’s decision making,” Few said. “BYU was running a little different zone where they’re pressuring out on the perimeter and we didn’t get comfortable with it until the second half.”

As mentioned in the game story, BYU coach Dave Rose opted to start Anson Winder over Brock Zylstra. Winder was a pest defensively, collecting three steals in the first 20 minutes.

“I thought if we started Anson maybe he could get his hands on a couple of balls, we could get a couple steals, get a layup or two and get the crowd into it early,” explained Rose, which is just about what happened. “They’re a really good interior passing team. I thought we did a great job of dropping to the ball and when that pass was trying to be thrown we got our hands on it a lot.”

By halftime, Elias Harris and Marquise Carter each had four turnovers and Kevin Pangos had three.

“They got us out of our offense,” Gonzaga forward Sam Dower said. “They were making us rush passes and do things we normally don’t do. Eighteen points off 15 turnovers (in the first half), that’s what lost us this game.”

--Few tried everybody available at the ‘3’ position and eventually found some quality minutes from  Carter, who finished with 13 points, three assists and played turnover-free in the second half, and Mike Hart, who had a steal, rebound and two free throws in Gonzaga’s late comeback. Other than that, Guy Landry Edi was ineffective with two turnovers and two fouls in just five minutes. Monninghoff couldn’t connect from long distance and Mathis Keita airballed a 3-point attempt late in the half. (Rose, by the way, mentioned the variable nature of basketball, pointing out that Monninghoff missed open 3s while Saint Mary’s Clint Steindl buried 3 after 3 in a win over BYU last week).

GU finally found a lineup that cut into BYU’s lead later in the second half. It usually consisted of Dower, Bell, Carter, Hart and David Stockton.

“At times in the second half we settled down and played decent enough to get ourselves back in the game. We just couldn’t get over the hump,” Few said. “David and the people on their second or third run in the second half did a nice job.”

By then, GU was frantically trying to trim BYU’s lead to single figures, which it did on a couple of occasions late but they were never able to seriously challenge.

--Harris, who has probably been GU’s steadiest player along with Gary Bell Jr., was a non factor offensively and had some issues defending as well. He rebounded pretty well early and finished with a team-high six boards. He attempted just 3 shots (making a 3-pointer for his only basket roughly 3 minutes into the first half). He got the foul line early in the second half and hit all four of his free throws, but he played just seven minutes in the second half.

He finished with seven points, six rebounds, four turnovers, two steals and one assist. BYU forward Brandon Davies navigated past Harris for a couple of post-up baskets, one a dunk, as BYU began to take control midway through the first half.

“It was a little of (BYU’s defense) and a lot of it himself, not seizing the moment,” Few said.

Robert Sacre fared just slightly better with 11 points and five rebounds, but he missed a couple from close range and finished 4 of 9 from the field, 3 of 6 from the line.

“To come out that way was disappointing, but we’ve been in worse situations,” Sacre said. “Last year it was just as bad (before GU rallied to share the WCC crown with Saint Mary’s). We have to keep working. We can’t focus on Saint Mary’s. We need to focus on how we’re playing.”


--Kevin Pangos (0 of 3 last night) has made 3 of his last 20 3-pointers in the last five games. He was 2 of 2 from distance against San Diego, 1 of 18 in the other four games.

--Bell’s 14 points pushed his season average to 10 per game, one of four GU players averaging double figures. Dower, who had 15 points, is getting closer at 9.1 per game.

--Bell, 6-foot-1 freshman guard, and the 5-10 sophomore Stockton each had five rebounds, the same number as the 7-foot Sacre and 6-9 Dower. (Fixed from earlier version).

--Assists vs. turnovers: Gonzaga 13-19, BYU 20-12.

--GU’s highest turnover games of the season: 20 vs. Michigan State (L), 19 vs. BYU (L), 19 vs. USF (W), 18 vs. EWU (W), 17 vs. Xavier (W), 16 vs. Illinois (L).

--Noah Hartsock’s 24 points was his second highest output of the season. He had 28 vs. LMU. His second-half stat line: 7 of 9 FG, 2 of 2 FT, 16 points, 8 rebounds, 1 assist.

--GU got to the foul line 28 times, making 20.


DOWER (a quote I used in game story, but probably worth repeating): “I don’t think we’re coming into these road games with the right mindset. We’re being the hunted instead of being the hunters. We have to change our mindset.”

FEW on BYU: “They came out and played us physical and got after us. Their posts attacked us really well and (guard Matt) Carlino was pushing the ball really well and got us back on our heels.”

DOWER: “Nothing was going right from the start of the game. We weren’t playing good defense, they just outplayed us. They had momentum with them the whole game and it kept building and building.”

DOWER, on BYU’s bigs (Hartsock, Davies): “They’re really good, a good feel for the game. They can both shoot, face-up. They’re hard-nosed and play hard on both ends.”

FEW, on whether the tempo was too fast: “Not really, that’s kind of how we’ve played the last 12 years.”

SACRE, on what he’ll say to his teammates looking ahead to Saturday’s game: “Pepperdine, that’s all you need to say. This game is over. We need to learn from it and try to get better.”

FEW, on the atmosphere in the Marriott Center: “Great home atmosphere, great support, an impressive building and a tough place to play, but we’ve been in a lot of tough places to play. That’s kind of what we do. That’s what’s disappointing. We’ve handled some pretty rough places and we didn’t handle this one very well tonight.”

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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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