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Wed., Jan. 16, 2013, 6:40 p.m.

First-place BYU will visit Gonzaga

BYU, riding a nine-game winning streak, will make its annual appearance at sold-out McCarthey Athletic Center on Thursday night as Gonzaga (13-5, 3-1) seeks to hand the Cougars their first West Coast Conference loss of the season. Read story

Graves praised the Bulldogs for bouncing back Monday against Portland after Thursday's narrow loss at Saint Mary's.

Graves said the Bulldogs competed well against the physical play of Saint Mary's, but they couldn't overcome 29 percent shooting from the floor.

The veteran Bulldogs coach said he was pleased with his team's defense and rebounding. Gonzaga outrebounded Saint Mary's, which has the WCC's best rebounding margin.

"To me, that's progress, and to me, that's something that will benefit us later in the year," Graves said. "Even though we lost, and that's hard to take, I came away impressed by our effort.

"Where we've struggled in all five of our losses is in shooting the basketball. ... We didn't get anything easy - no transition, nothing inside - so those are areas we have to improve."

Graves wouldn't call the BYU game a "must win," but he said championship teams have to take care of business at home. During BYU's nine-game winning streak, the Cougars have won seven at home.

Graves and Greinacher put their focus on Hamson.

"That's been their biggest difference," Graves said. "She's 6-7, she's talented, and that changes everything."

"Shelby (Cheslek) is starting on (Hamson) and she's not giving up a lot of size," Greinacher said of the 6-5 redshirt freshman. "We're just going to try to push her out of the key and play her strong."

Greinacher said she was also impressed by BYU point guard Haley Steed (7.9 assists per game) when the teams met last season.

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Chris Derrick
Chris Derrick joined The Spokesman-Review in 1990. He currently is a copy editor for the Sports Desk.

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