Good morning. Kids' stuff today, so I'll post this and hit the road.
GU had perhaps its best 80 minutes of basketball this season, thumping Saint Mary's and LMU at the Kennel. The Bulldogs have had several impressive efforts (Arizona, Notre Dame, Xavier) but probably the one that came closest to SMC/LMU was the home rout of Portland, followed by the road win at Xavier.
Here are the links: My game story, Jesse Tinsley's fine photo gallery. Elsewhere, Saint Mary's rebounded from the GU loss to defeat Santa Clara -- the Broncos' 13-game losing streak is the school's longest since WWII; BYU hit 12 3-pointers to clobber Pepperdine; and San Francisco knocked off San Diego, despite Johnny Dee setting USD's freshman scoring record.
--Before the game, Mark and Marcy Few presented a $681,000 check to the American Cancer Society. As mentioned in a previous post, Jo Lynn Chastain, whose son, Brandon, has terminal cancer, accepted the check on behalf of the ACS. (There will be more about Brandon and Jo Lynn on the Mark Few Show tonight).
As she left the court, Jo Lynn hugged every GU player.
The Few’s Coaches vs. Cancer events have raised more than $5.4 million.
“That’s a credit to the Spokane community,” Few said.
--Few and his players were understandably worried about LMU, a red-hot team that plays well on the road. The Lions gave GU everything it could handle in L.A. last month and GU was coming off an emotional victory over Saint Mary’s on Thursday. The crowd was loud Saturday, but not as boisterous as Thursday’s. It looked like a recipe for a letdown.
“We’ve got a lot of guys slapping us on back, slapping me on back, giving my wife slaps on the back at the grocery store,” Few said. “Loyola had won six in a row. They went into BYU and handled them and just knowing what (Drew) Viney and (Anthony) Ireland are capable of …”
GU found out what those two were capable of – they combined for 47 points, Ireland carrying LMU in the first half and Viney doing the same in the second half – but it hardly mattered. The Bulldogs were dialed in from the outset and put four players in double figures. They led by as many as 16 in the first half and 24 in the second.
“It crossed my mind after a big win that maybe we might relax a little, but everyone did a great job stepping up,” guard Kevin Pangos said. “No one slacked off.”
Few added: “We played great again. Loyola is a really tough, hard-nosed team. We did a nice job matching that. We played tough all weekend. We ended up doing a nice job on the glass, a nice job moving ball on offense, and we just played good on both ends of the floor.”
--Center Robert Sacre (pictured above) knows all about LMU’s toughness. Sacre finished with 13 points, making 7 of 8 FTs, and drew more than his share of LMU’s 20 fouls.
“We knew it wasn’t going to be a pretty game, it was going to be physical,” Sacre said. “LMU, I hate them, you can put that in the paper (or the blog). I hate LMU for the fact that basically they play hard and you can’t sleep on that team and I think a lot of people sleep on them. They’re a great team – that’s why I hate them so much. And you can’t let up against them.”
A bystander raised an eyebrow at hearing Sacre use the word hate, but Sacre made it clear he was praising the visitors.
--All of sudden, GU is a little thin on the guard line. Mathis Keita sat out with a sprained ankle from Friday’s practice. It happened just before practice ended. He was limping around the locker room afterward. He said he didn’t know the severity, but would have a better idea in a day or two.
David Stockton rolled his ankle (I believe his and Keita’s were left ankle sprains) after a collision with an LMU player. It didn’t look good on replay. He returned to play briefly late in the first half. He sat out the second half. I didn’t get a chance to talk to him following the game.
Pangos visited the training room post-game for some treatment on his neck.
“Just a little tightness, nothing big,” he said. “I got tossed around a little bit.”
Asked how his body feels after 24 games averaging 30-plus minutes, Pangos said, “It’s a little tired, but that’s all part of it. You just do whatever you can to take care of your body – rest, stretch, whatever.”
--I mentioned the stat in the game story about Pangos and Gary Bell Jr. having just one turnover in their 126 combined minutes in the last two games. Hearing that, Few said it was an “amazing stat.” Then he made a point about Bell, who had another solid, under-the-radar performance.
“Look at Gary,” Few said. “He only gets 3-4 shots, but it doesn’t change his game. He’s still as hard-nosed on defense as ever, still making assists on offense. That’s what makes him such a special player.”
Bellalso did a solid job defensively on Ireland in the second half. The waterbug Lions guard made just 1 of 5 shots and had just four points after intermission.
--Guy Landry Edi delivered 13 points in 29 minutes, strong numbers considering he spent much of his night at the other end defending Viney and, at times, Ireland.
“Ireland is really quick and he really tries to shake you up,” Edi said. “You don’t know if he’s going to pull up or drive. You really have to stay down and try not to let him shake you up. Viney, you can’t let him touch the ball. If you let him, he’s going to score.
“My job was to limit his touches. The first half went pretty well, the second half I kind of relaxed and he got easy touches.”
The two Lions had very little help from their teammates. Ireland and Viney were 5 of 12 on 3s, the rest of the team 1 of 11 -- and many of them were open looks.
“You’re not going to beat Gonzaga with two of your guys,” LMU coach Max Good said. “You got to click on all cylinders. You got to have at least three guys really play well and we had two guys that played well. This is the best anybody shot against us in awhile and to be honest I thought they got out in lanes and ran well. They made their free throws and we just struggled. C.J. Blackwell’s been playing really well. He had open shots and missed them.”
--There’s probably a correlation somewhere, but Elias Harris seems to play better with that scowl on his face. He scowled through the last two games to the tune of 27 points and 25 rebounds.
And much more.
“He had a great weekend,” Few said. “Defensively he was really dialed in. We asked a lot of him in ball-screen coverage and the last couple of years he wouldn’t have been able to handle it like he did.”
Said Harris: “I think it was really important to show everybody that even though we lost to BYU we’re still in the league race and we’re trying to make things happen.”
STATS OF NOTE
-Edi made 6 of 6 field goals and was 0 of 4 on 3s.
-Gonzaga cleaned up inside with a 38-16 edge in points in the paint.
-Sacre blocked two shots, giving him 176 in his career, tied for third with Ronny Turiaf.
-One of the only blemishes on the stat sheet was GU’s 15 turnovers. Harris, Sacre and Carter each had three, Stockton and Dower each two.
-Dower went 4 of 4 at the FT line. He’s now 29 of 32 (90.6%) in WCC games.
-Pangos was 5 of 7 on 3s, making him 29 of 65 in conference games (44.6%).
-Six regulars (Harris, Sacre, Bell, Dower, Edi and Carter) are shooting at least 50 percent from the field in WCC play.
SACRE, on Harris: “When he plays like that, that’s his best. When he’s active, we feed off that.”
GOOD, on GU’s interior: “They are just so big, strong and tough inside. You got to be able to make your perimeter shots against them because they kind of eliminate a lot of easy layups looks. You just don’t get a lot of easy layup looks against them.”
FEW, on strong performances back-to-back: “That’s a good sign. We have to bottle it up and take it on the road now. Last year we lost both games (at Santa Clara and at San Francisco).” GU plays those Bay Area schools this week.
PANGOS, on defending Ireland, who drove on him for a couple of good looks early on: “I wasn’t supposed to be on him, but we switched. He was quick; I was slow-footed. I’ll get him next time maybe. He’s a really quick guy.”
PANGOS, on the difference from GU after last week’s 1-1 road trip: “I think we have more of an edge to us. We’re not getting too high on these wins because we know we got our butt kicked (by BYU). Everyone is focusing and trying to redeem ourselves in a way and make a statement that we’re still here.”
GOOD, on his team’s effort: “We wanted to win the last two minutes and I don’t know if we did or didn’t, but I was pleased that these guys kept competing. In here they are a handful. They got a great home environment and great fan support. They’ve got very good players and they well coached. They’ve got their bases covered.”