January 11, 1998 in Sports

Fast Start Carries Zags Past Late Rush Of Waves

 

Gonzaga got it half right Saturday night.

Normally, that doesn’t cut it on the road against a West Coast Conference favorite like Pepperdine.

But the half the Bulldogs got right was so close to perfect they were able to make it stand up for an important 77-64 men’s basketball win in the hostile surroundings of Firestone Fieldhouse.

The victory raised GU’s overall record to 13-4 and gave the Bulldogs their first 2-0 conference road start since 1994, when they won the WCC regular-season title with a 12-2 mark.

The win did not come without worry. Pepperdine (9-5, 1-1) cut GU’s 29-point halftime lead to 10 with just less than four minutes left only to watch Bulldogs point guard Matt Santangelo hit an off-balance 3-pointer that gave GU a 69-53 advantage and the game’s last major momentum swing.

Santangelo’s bucket ended a Gonzaga scoring drought that had stretched to almost six minutes and snapped Pepperdine’s string of 15 unanswered points. It also made sure that the Bulldogs’ dreamlike first-half effort, which included 20-of-29 shooting from the field and a 17-7 rebounding advantage, was not wasted.

Santangelo finished with 19 points. Teammate Quentin Hall added 18 off the bench. Bakari Hendrix, despite playing the final nine minutes with four fouls, scored 12.

Pepperdine, picked by some as the team to beat in this year’s WCC race, got 16 points from University of California transfer Jelani Gardner and 15 from Bryan Hill, but the Waves never completely recovered from GU’s incredible first-half blitz.

The Bulldogs hit their first two shots of the game, but fell behind 8-6 on back-to-back 3-pointers by Gardner and Gerald Brown, who finished with 14 points. GU’s Mike Leasure then muscled inside for a bucket that ignited a remarkable 21-2 Bulldogs run that produced a 27-10 lead with just over 8 minutes left in the first half.

Gonzaga continued throwing in nearly everything, while giving Pepperdine little in the way of second shots, and built its lead to 53-24 at intermission..

Gonzaga returns home to face WCC foe San Diego Thursday night at 7.

Gonzaga 77, Pepperdine 64

Gonzaga (13-4) - Leasure 1-3 0-0 2, Hendrix 5-8 2-4 12, Dench 3-7 3-3 9, Santangelo 7-12 2-4 19, Frahm 3-10 1-1 9, Hall 5-5 6-9 18, Floyd 1-1 0-0 3, Nilson 0-1 0-0 0, Calvary 1-1 0-0 3, Griffin 1-1 0-0 2. Totals 27-49 14-21 77.

Pepperdine (9-5) - Prince 2-4 2-2 7, Hill 5-9 5-10 15, Givens 4-12 4-4 12, Gardner 6-12 0-0 16, Brown 6-16 0-0 14, Fomby 0-1 0-0 0, Gibbs 0-4 0-0 0, McDowell 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 23-58 11-16 64.

Halftime - Gonzaga 53, Pepperdine 24. 3-Point goals - Gonzaga 9-17 (Santangelo 3-5, Hall 2-2, Frahm 2-6, Floyd 1-1, Calvary 1-1, Leasure 0-1, Dench 0-1), Pepperdine 7-17 (Gardner 4-7, Brown 2-7, Prince 1-2, Givens 0-1). Fouled out - None. Rebounds - Gonzaga 37 (Dench 7), Pepperdine 25 (Hill 7). Assists - Gonzaga 18 (Santangelo 4), Pepperdine 16 (Prince 5). Total fouls - Gonzaga 17, Pepperdine 18. A - 2,422.


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