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Bulldogs Take Wind Out Of Gaels Hendrix, Frahm Spark 80-57 Win Over Saint Mary’s

Gonzaga University coach Dan Fitzgerald was staring at the floor outside his team’s locker room Saturday evening, shaking his head and trying to make sense of what he had just witnessed.

Moments earlier, his Bulldogs had completed the most unlikely of weekend sweeps by stunning West Coast Conference favorite Saint Mary’s College 80-57 behind the physical inside play of junior forward Bakari Hendrix and the uncanny outside shooting of freshman backup guard Richie Frahm.

“We can’t play that good with what’s in that room,” Fitzgerald said, nodding toward the door that separated him from the postgame celebration in the locker room.

And he was probably right.

The Bulldogs, 9-5 overall and an unexpected 2-0 in the WCC after being picked to finish near the middle of the pack, flattened the the Gaels (11-4, 1-1) with a near-flawless first half.

Hendrix scored seven of his 12 points and muscled down five of his nine rebounds in the first 20 minutes as GU stampeded to a 41-20 lead.

In addition, the 6-foot-5 Frahm scored 12 of his career-high 20 points by making the most of a decided height advantage over SMC’s 5-10 David Sivulich. Freshman point guard Matt Santangelo contributed three of his four assists and six of his 10 points.

And the Bulldogs put together as ferocious a 20 minutes of defense as GU fans have witnessed in some time, holding the Gaels to just 25.9 percent (7 of 27) field-goal shooting.

“I thought they beat us in every phase of the game,” said SMC coach Ernie Kent, whose Gaels had won 11 of their previous 12 games, with the loss coming to Fresno State by two points. “They outshot us, they out-hustled us and they were more physical than us - which really concerns me.

“I just felt like they knocked us on our tails.”

The Gaels, who got 13 points from Eric Knapp and 11 from all-mop-up reserve Frank Knight, could get no closer than 49-34 in the second half.

“In defense of Saint Mary’s, they were flat and we were really, really good,” said Fitzgerald, whose Bulldogs knocked off defending co-champion Santa Clara 75-66 in Thursday night’s WCC opener. “That was probably a stinker for Saint Mary’s, but we took the opportunity.

“We played the best and they played the worst, so we’re probably somewhere in between. But I don’t want to take anything away from our guys. When kids play like that, they deserve to be praised.”

Frahm, who made his first eight field-goal tries - including four 3-pointers - before missing his final attempt, said he was in “one of those shooter’s zones.”

“They were all looks that were within our offense,” he said, “but the basket seemed like it was an ocean.”

Kent did not seem as surprised as Fitzgerald by GU’s effort.

“Obviously, they were ready to play,” he explained. “When you’re the leader of the pack, so to speak - and everybody picked us, everybody is going to be up to play you.”

“These (Gonzaga) guys are good guys and smart guys, and they did a great job of getting ready for an exam. It didn’t surprise me (the way they played), but I think it might have surprised our guys.”

The anticipated matchup between Brad Millard, SMC’s 7-3, 345-pound center, and GU 7-foot freshman Axel Dench was a mere sidelight to the Bulldogs’ parade of first-half heroes.

Both big men picked up two fouls in the first 3 minutes and became spectators.

GU will play at San Diego Thursday night at 7.

Gonzaga 80, Saint Mary’s 57

Saint Mary’s (11-4) - Sufi 1-7 0-0 3, Knapp 4-10 2-2 13, Millard 2-5 4-4 8, Rollins 2-8 1-2 5, Unruh 1-3 0-0 2, Greer 0-3 1-2 1, Dodic 1-1 0-1 2, Bond 0-1 0-2 0, Schraeder 1-4 0-1 3, Knight 2-4 7-7 11, Allocco 1-2 1-2 4, Sivulich 2-7 0-0 5. Totals 17-55 16-23 57.

Gonzaga (9-5) - Santangelo 4-9 1-2 10, Rollins 5-11 4-4 14, Dench 2-5 0-0 4, Leasure 1-2 0-0 3, Hendrix 5-13 2-5 12, Eaton 1-3 1-2 3, Nemeth 0-0 0-0 0, Williams 2-2 0-0 5, Frahm 8-9 0-1 20, Nilson 0-1 0-2 0, Crider 0-0 1-2 1, McKnight 0-0 0-0 0, Floyd 2-2 0-0 6, Griffin 0-0 0-0 0, Ball 1-2 0-0 2. Totals 31-59 9-18 80.

Halftime-Gonzaga 80, Saint Mary’s 57. 3-Point goals-Saint Mary’s 7-20 (Sufi 1-4, Knapp 3-6, Greer 0-1, Schraeder 1-2, Allocco 1-2, Sivulich 1-5), Gonzaga 9-19 (Santangelo 1-4, Rollins 0-2, Leasure 1-2, Hendrix 0-3, Williams 1-1, Frahm 4-5, Floyd 2-2). Fouled out-None. Rebounds-Saint Mary’s 31 (Rollins, Schraeder 3), Gonzaga 44 (Hendrix 9). Assists-Saint Mary’s 9 (Sufi 3), Gonzaga 15 (Santangelo, Rollins 4 each). Total fouls-Saint Mary’s 19, Gonzaga 20. A-3,523.

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Color photo


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