Good morning. NFL playoffs coming up, so let’s get right to the day-after
Gonzaga won its eighth straight game, routing the Broncos 82-60, last night. Here’s my game story, John Blanchette’s column on Marquise Carter and Jesse Tinsley’s photos. More from A.P., Tacoma News Tribune and Contra Costa Times.
Much more below.
—Watching the replay late last night, I noticed Sam Dower swatted one of the Santa Clara shots credited to Robert Sacre on the official stats. It was an easy mistake to make since Sacre was positioned to block the shot if Dower hadn’t beat him to it. Even without that block, Sacre rejected three shots, giving him 160, third behind Ronny Turiaf’s 176 and Casey Calvary’s 207.
Gonzaga blocked a season-high seven shots, and it wasn’t by accident. Elias Harris had two and Guy Landry Edi had one. That last line of defense was important with SCU’s offense relying on dribble penetration by its guards after running roughly 20-25 seconds off the shot clock. Gonzaga’s off-ball defenders weren’t able to help as much because of the Broncos’ perimeter shooting ability at the 1-2-3 spots. GU was able to help more, specifically at the 1-2-3, against Xavier, which didn’t have as many perimeter threats.
Wing Raymond Cowels scored SCU’s first eight points (his per-game avg. is 8.1) and finished with 13. He made three 3s (he’s a 40.2% shooter from long distance), two in the first 2:15.
“Today was a game where the bigs had to clean it up,” Harris said. “Our guards couldn’t help much on penetration. It was our job to protect the rim.”
—SCU guards Kevin Foster and Evan Roquemore score a lot and they shoot a lot. Foster torched Gonzaga for 14 3-pointers while scoring 63 points in two games last season. Roquemore had 29 points in those two games.
The pair average nearly 33 points per game this season. Through SCU’s first 14 games, the pair had attempted 361 of the team’s 806 field goals (nearly 45 percent), and 212 of 344 3-pointers (61.6 percent).
The two combined to go 6 of 25 on field goals and 1 of 8 3s. Both scored nine points. Foster had reached double figures in every game this season and 36 of 38 games last year. Both took numerous contested shots.
“They get a lot of shots, they have a lot of freedom and that’s a dangerous player right there,” GU coach Mark Few said. “We did two things. One, we did a great job chasing them off the line or making their 3s tough, and then we got our hands back. They’ve been putting ball on the floor and creating a lot of contact on drives and we did a good job keeping our hands back.”
Roquemore didn’t attempt a free throw; Foster was 5 of 5. I believe Foster scored just two of his points against Gary Bell Jr. The others came against Hart (3 FTs) and Edi (4 pts.).
“We just stayed attached and didn’t leave them open,” guard Kevin Pangos said. “If everyone keeps their man in front of them, you don’t have to help as much and then they don’t get as many kick-outs. Overall it was a team defensive effort and Gary did a great job on Foster.”
—Gonzaga’s stretch of defense from the final 4:20 of the first half through the 13-minute mark of the second half was maybe its best of the season. Santa Clara didn’t score on its last six possessions of the first half. The Broncos managed one field goal (by John McArthur) and three Foster free throws (after being fouled by Mike Hart) in the first seven minutes of the second half.
In that span, GU outscored SCU 27-5.
“We did the small things,” Harris said. “We did the things we talk about in practice: play hard, ball pressure, get in the gaps, fly around and be active.”
—Gonzaga finished with 17 assists, led by Pangos’ five and Marquise Carter’s four. Several were highlight-reel material, particularly Pangos’ drive-and-dish to Hart cutting down the lane and Carter had at least two great feeds that led to easy buckets.
“When they get out running, especially those guards, they all have such a good feel for the game,” Few said. “Marquise has an exceptional feel for the game. We needed that tonight against (SCU’s) switching defenses. You need a guy that can pinpoint through that.”
Carter played 18 minutes and David Stockton played 16 as GU often went with three guards rather than Hart/Edi at the ‘3’. Hart and Edi combined for 20 minutes.
STATS OF NOTE
—GU’s bench, led by Dower’s 17 and Carter’s 6, outscored SCU’s 36-19.
—Gonzaga made 16 of 21 FTs (76.2%), its best effort since making 78.6% vs. Michigan State.
—All 12 Zags scored.
—GU’s 54.5%-FG shooting was its second best of the season (54.7% vs. Portland).
—Dower has made 5 of 6 3s this season.
—Harris was 5 of 8 at the FT line and he’s 33 of 57 (59 percent). He made 77.2% last season. If he had maintained that accuracy this season, he’d have 11 more points and his scoring average would go from 12.7 to 13.5.
—In Gonzaga’s eight-game winning streak, six have been by double figures. The exceptions were Oral Roberts (67-61) and Xavier (72-65).
Few on whether he’s surprised by Pangos’/Bell’s shooting accuracy from outside: “Kevin’s probably got 40-some 3s (actually 38) and Gary’s always been a good shooter throughout high school. He got off to a slow start, just sort of feeling his way around, but he’s been shooting it really well the last month and a half.”
Few on Bell having energy at both ends of the court: “He doesn’t ever not bring it, that’s a neat quality he has. And it’s the same way in practice.”
Pangos on slow start (SCU led 10-0): “Whatever it was, we bounced back pretty well.”
Harris on rebounding turnaround: “The bigs huddled up and said, ‘That can’t happen. We’re better than that.’ The (offensive) rebounding helped us get those extra chances and score or get to the line.”
Dower on the rebounding turnaround: “You know how it is. The coaches came in and told us we’re getting our butts kicked on the boards so we have to pick it up. They were getting a lot of second-chance points so we had to pick it up.”
SCU coach Kerry Keating: “Our guys understood that without the students here they could make a bit of a dent. We had a pretty good start to the game but then we had a stretch where we didn’t convert offensively. If you don’t do that in a place like this things can get away from you.”
Cowles: “(GU) plays tough, solid defense all the time and it’s tough to get good shots against them. When we were (making the shots) we were fine but sometimes we’re not always going to have the best of luck.”