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Day after BYU, day before San Diego

Gonzaga’s Elias Harris puts an exclamation point on a slam dunk in the Bulldogs’ 74-63 win over BYU. (Christopher Anderson)
Gonzaga’s Elias Harris puts an exclamation point on a slam dunk in the Bulldogs’ 74-63 win over BYU. (Christopher Anderson)

Any later and this would have been the first day after day-after post, or something like that. But we're back with a day-after BYU post and a quick look at Saturday's game against surprising San Diego.

It's a shorter-than-usual day-after post following Gonzaga’s 74-63 win over BYU last night, the main reason being there's a vast amount of information contained in the numerous articles from the game. The links: S-R game story, Blanchette column, Anderson photos (of course he got Elias Harris' one-hand jam; pictured above). Elsewhere, articles in the Salt Lake Tribune, Deseret News, A.P. and Seattle Times. Here's the rundown on seeding/tiebreakers/scenarios, etc., from the WCC office.


Read on below for more.

First, a short preview of GU-USD that will run in Saturday's S-R ...

The outcome won’t impact Gonzaga’s seeding in the WCC men’s basketball tournament or its first-round opponent in the semifinals, but the Bulldogs are still playing for something against San Diego at 4 Saturday at the Jenny Craig Pavilion.

However, that something – a 12th consecutive WCC regular-season title – requires assistance from San Francisco, which knocked off the Bulldogs 66-65 last Saturday. If Gonzaga (22-5, 12-3 WCC) defeats the Toreros and USF beats Saint Mary’s (24-5, 13-2) later tonight, the Bulldogs and Gaels are co-champions. Saint Mary’s has clinched the top seed and a victory over USF would give the Gaels their first outright WCC title since 1989.

Gonzaga is focusing on what it can control. The Toreros (12-16, 7-8) have won four of their last five conference games, including an impressive 60-57 road win over Loyola Marymount on Thursday. Picked to finish last in the coaches’ preseason poll, San Diego has a chance to tie San Francisco for fifth but is locked into the sixth seed.

“It’s hard to go to LMU and beat them because they have a really good team,” GU junior forward Elias Harris said. “We have to get mentally ready and get our focus right because they’re not going to just hand it to us.”

Gonzaga beat the Toreros 77-60 last month in Spokane.

And the day-after BYU ...


--I’ll start with Gonzaga’s defense, which was solid most of the night. When it wasn’t, BYU shooters failed to take advantage of open looks.

“To hold them 30 percent (shooting), they’re one of the highest scoring teams in the country,” head coach Mark Few said. “We guarded our tails off.”

BYU actually made 30.8 percent. The Cougars flirted with their worst shooting night since going sub-30 percent against Air Force in 2005. BYU’s 27-point first half was its second lowest of the season (25 vs. Utah).

Gonzaga often sent double-teams at forwards Brandon Davies and Noah Hartsock, the latter limited to seven minutes due to a knee injury sustained at Santa Clara on Saturday. Davies was off target early, but warmed up in the second half to finish with 23 points on 8-of-18 shooting.

“When you throw the ball into the post to Davies, they double-team him and come strong with big guys,” BYU coach Dave Rose said. “The ball is coming back out and someone has to make a play. We were forced to find a guy and went a long period of time where we got quick shots and empty possessions. I think we settled down in the second half and found ourselves and we can build on that.”

If that sounds familiar, it’s roughly what happened to GU in an 83-73 loss to BYU in Provo last month. Gonzaga committed 15 first-half turnovers before finding some rhythm offensively in the final 20 minutes. By then, it was too late.

--Hartsock’s absence – he played just seven minutes and didn’t take a shot – left BYU with few reliable scoring options. Charles Abouo and Matt Carlino teamed up for 28 points, but went 11 of 36 from the field.

“He wanted to try and play,” Rose said. “He just did not have any power in that leg. You could see that when he was defending, trying to run and when he tried to pivot in the low post.”

--There’s quite a bit of stuff in the links above on the play concerning Gary Bell Jr.’s pass off the backboard to Guy Landry Edi that went awry. Bell quickly turned toward the bench, his facial expression indicating that he knew he had made a mistake.

“That’s just being a kid,” Few said. And what did the coach say to Bell? “That’s just between me and him. It was handled and I’ll bet he never does it again.”

Bell cracked that the play should “probably make the non Top 10 plays of the day.”

It spoke volumes that Few left Bell in the game.

“Absolutely,” Few said. “We were crystal clear and we moved on.”


-Gonzaga attempted 41 shots. BYU hoisted 44 in the first half alone and 78 for the game. That’s the most against GU this season. The second most? BYU’s 69 FG attempts vs. Gonzaga in Provo.

-Harris equaled his season high with 37 minutes.

-Gonzaga committed 20 turnovers (four each by Sacre, Pangos and Bell).

-Marquise Carter contributed two points, two assists and a steal in seven first-half minutes. He also had two turnovers. He didn’t play in the second half.

-BYU collected 23 offensive rebounds. That’s a high number, but the Cougars also had a lot of opportunities. They missed 54 field goals and 7 free throws.


ROSE: “Our effort was tremendous. We rebounded the ball, we guarded the ball but we didn’t score very well and I think that was the story. We played hard enough to win, but we just need to play better.”

FEW, on Harris: “He was really, really good. He got some big-time rebounds. He was a real physical presence.”

HARRIS, on Hartsock: “He’s a really good player. I hope he gets well soon and he’s able to play again.”

HARRIS, on finally beating BYU after two losses the last 11 months: “I was like, it’s impossible for them to beat us every time. We played horrible (in Provo). At the end of the day, a lot of effort and hustle made the difference 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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