Memphis hands Gonzaga a loss
Tyreke Evans scored 22 points as No. 14 Memphis beat No. 18 Gonzaga 68-50 on Saturday in a showdown of teams dominating their conference races and seeking more national attention.
This was a last chance for each to impress the NCAA selection committee, and Memphis sure did, holding the Zags to a season low in points. Gonzaga’s previous low had been 64 points twice.
Robert Dozier added 18 points and 10 rebounds for Memphis (20-3), whose 14-game winning streak is second-longest in the nation.
Micah Downs scored 13 points to lead Gonzaga (17-5), which saw its nine-game winning streak snapped. The Zags were hurt by 36 percent shooting and 15 turnovers.
Memphis, which lost to Kansas in the NCAA title game last season, has won four in a row against Gonzaga in what has become an annual series. This was the first blowout.
Memphis is 8-0 in Conference USA, while the Zags are 8-0 in the West Coast Conference.
The game featured two of the nation’s better defenses, and neither team shot early. Memphis went on a 12-2 run to build a 23-12 lead midway through the first half. The Zags were held to one basket in a 6-minute span, as Memphis pressed and forced turnovers.
Micah Downs hit a 3-pointer and two free throws as the Zags cut the lead to 28-20. But Evans hit 3-pointers at the beginning and end of a 12-3 run to give the Tigers a 40-23 halftime lead. Evans had 14 first-half points, and Dozier 10.
Playing their annual game in the Spokane Arena, the Zags saw numerous open looks clang off the rim, and committed 11 turnovers in the first half. Downs came off the bench to score 10 points in the first as Josh Heytvelt and Matt Bouldin, Gonzaga’s two leading scorers, were held to a combined three points in the half. The 23 first-half points were the lowest for the Zags this season.
Dozier scored five early second half points as Memphis built a 20-point lead at 47-27 as the Zags missed eight of their first 10 shots in the second.
Evans’ basket gave Memphis a 60-34 lead with about eight minutes left.
Memphis suddenly went cold and the Zags scored 13 straight points to cut their deficit to 60-47 with 3:29 left. Memphis was scoreless for seven minutes before Evans’ jumper made it 62-47 with 1:48 left, killing the Zags’ momentum.
The Zags came in averaging 79 points a game. They lead the nation in opponents’ field-goal percentage, allowing just 36.6 percent. But Memphis shot 44 percent and won the rebound battle 39-25.