A plane to catch, a day-after post to prepare.
You know the drill. Here's a link to my game story and the Oregonian's recap, Elsewhere, Saint Mary's remained unbeaten in conference with a 71-64 road win over Loyola Marymount. The Gaels visit BYU on Saturday.
--No way around it, Gonzaga’s first half was rugged. The Bulldogs missed in the paint, from the mid-range and beyond the 3-point line. They missed open looks and contested ones. They turned it over seven times. They had some issues defending as Portland hit 46.2 percent of its shots and had nine assists on 12 baskets.
I mentioned in the game story that GU’s 25 points was its lowest scoring first half of the season. It was. It was also the Zags’ lowest scoring half period. They had 28-point first halves against Air Force and Santa Clara. They’ve scored at least 30 points in every second half of the season.
“The whole first 20 minutes they outhustled us, outplayed us, outcoached us, everything,” head coach Mark Few said. “And they deserve a lot of credit for that. They had us frustrated. We came in and got after them a little bit at half and they responded.”
Gary Bell Jr., who had 17 of his 18 points in the second half, said it was the most Few had “got after them” during a game this season.
“We knew that we didn’t come out aggressively,” Bell said, “and at half he came in and said some inspiring stuff.”
Few said Gonzaga got better shots by moving the ball, executing and “making it easy on ourselves.”
--Kevin Pangos turned 19 on Thursday and his typically deft shooting touch took the night off. He missed all six of his 3-point attempts, but he did show some mid-range and driving game, making 4 of 7 shots from those areas. He was also 4 of 5 at the free-throw line to finish with 12 points, three assists and three steals to counter four turnovers.
“I couldn’t seem to hit a 3, everything seemed to be rattling out,” he said. “We fought through it. No excuses.”
Pangos said the Bulldogs “weren’t swinging the ball a lot to the second and third side. We were trying to do things on our own.”
In fact, Gonzaga’s streak of 614 games with a 3-pointer, which dates back to Jan. 27, 1993, was in jeopardy until Bell’s 3 with 12:05 remaining. GU finished 1 of 11 from distance.
--Elias Harris mentioned afterward that the first half reminded him of the Saint Mary’s game. That was certainly the case, particularly in the first 20 minutes when Harris and Pangos were the team’s only reliable offensive options. Both had 8 points.
Robert Sacre and Gary Bell Jr., both ineffective in the first half, responded in the second. Marquise Carter also played well, contributing three assists and a bucket after a Portland turnover. By the end, Gonzaga had four players in double figures. Balanced scoring is one of the team’s strengths.
“The spark for me was I didn’t have the fouls in the second half,” said Sacre, who had two fouls in the first half, the second coming four seconds after he’d checked back into the game. He finished with four fouls.
STATS OF NOTE
--After a frosty 4 of 20 start, Gonzaga made 20 of its last 31 FG attempts.
--Bell’s layup on the opening possession of the second half was his first field goal of the game.
--Portland had at least three turnovers on inbounds passes.
--Gonzaga didn’t commit a foul in the second half until 9:12 remained. By then, Portland had six. GU finished with 14 fouls, Portland 26 (several late when it was playing catch-up).
--Sacre’s line: 5 of 5 FG, 6 of 7 FT, 5 rebounds, 16 points, 3 turnovers, 2 blocks.
--GU has won 18 straight and 32 of the last 33 versus Portland.
--Throw out the first two games of the season (wins over EWU 77-69 and WSU 89-81) and Gonzaga has only given up more than 65 points three times. All were losses (Saint Mary’s 83-62, Michigan State 74-67, Illinois 82-75).
--Portland native Mike Hart, who started 18 games before giving way to Guy Landry Edi the last two contests, didn’t play.
--Carter's 21 minutes was his most since playing 33 against Notre Dame in the fifth game of the season.
--GU won the boards, 36-28, and dominated the points in the paint (44-22).
--Portland, one of the nation’s top 3-point percentage shooting teams the last three seasons, continues to struggle. The Pilots made 6 of 21 3s (28.6%), just below their season average of 30.5.
HARRIS, on free-throw shooting: “We shoot a lot of free throws in practice and we shoot them really well in practice. I don’t know what happens in games. We need to step up to the line with confidence and make those shots.” (He made 7 of 8, GU hit 25 of 31).
FEW, on playing the first 90 seconds or so with a women’s ball: “I’ve never seen that before. That happens to my kids all the time when they come down (to the MAC) and shoot.”
SACRE, on defending Ryan Nicholas, who went scoreless in the second half after scoring 13 in the first: “They assigned me that and I take my job and do the best I can. I just played as hard as I could and tried to stop him.”
PILOTS COACH ERIC REVENO: “We’ve had problems in terms of our offensive continuity and getting it where we want to. We didn’t do a good job of getting it to (Nicholas) where we needed to and one play we got it to him down low and I think Stockton poked it away. (Nicholas) didn’t make the right read.”
FEW, on Sacre (who dislocated his right thumb Dec. 21): “I think his hand is feeling a lot better.”