January 9, 2011 in Sports

Gonzaga reels off 9-0 run to answer Portland rally

By The Spokesman-Review
 
Jesse Tinsley photo

Gonzaga’s Steven Gray soars over Portland’s Derrick Rodgers for a layup Saturday night.
(Full-size photo)

Gonzaga’s lead, once as large as 18, was down to three in the second half and Portland had seized momentum.

Sixty seconds later, the Bulldogs had rattled off nine points and they were on their way to their 15th straight victory over the Pilots, this one a 74-61 men’s basketball decision Saturday in front of 6,000 at the McCarthey Athletic Center.

Every one of those nine points underscored the defining statistics in the West Coast Conference opener for both schools.

The run started with senior guard Steven Gray’s driving layup. He finished with a game-high 19 points and was the only Bulldog to reach double figures, though GU’s balance resulted in eight players scoring between four and nine points.

Next came a Demetri Goodson steal – one of the Pilots’ season-high 20 turnovers – and he dished to Kelly Olynyk for a layup. Olynyk followed with a 3-pointer – his seven points contributed to GU’s 32-12 edge in bench points – and Gonzaga’s lead was 10.

Elias Harris followed with another steal and a pair of free throws to cap the burst, giving Gonzaga a 67-55 lead with 5:40 remaining. The Bulldogs (11-5) connected on 19 of 24 free throws to Portland’s 6 of 8.

“We put on much more ball pressure,” said Gonzaga coach Mark Few, whose club collected its seventh straight win. “We wanted to get after them because they’re so good when they’re comfortable in their system.”

Portland’s shooting numbers were impressive. The Pilots (12-4) made 52.2 percent from the field and the nation’s top 3-point percentage team hit 7 of 12 (58.3 percent) from long distance, but their efficiency was minimized by 20 turnovers, six by point guard Eric Waterford and four by Nemanja Mitrovic.

Gonzaga converted those turnovers into 21 points. Meanwhile, GU committed nine turnovers, resulting in just five points for the Pilots.

“Given our team this year, I was hopeful for a different beginning,” Pilots coach Eric Reveno said, “but when you turn it over like we did, it’s not surprising for that to happen. We did some things to feel good about and we also did some things that we know we need to be able to do better.”

Gonzaga dominated the first half. Gray scored 13 points in roughly the first 13 minutes and Mathis Mönninghoff, who sat out the last two games with a swollen ankle, made three 3-pointers as GU led 47-29.

The Bulldogs’ offense stalled in the second half. They missed their first seven shots. Their first field goal came with 12:48 left on a David Stockton layup. By then, the Pilots had narrowed the deficit to six and they would close within 56-53 after Luke Sikma’s layup capped a 7-0 run.

“Offensively, it might have come a little too easily in the first half,” Few said. “We just got a little bit tentative in the second half.”

GU’s 9-0 spurt provided some breathing room. Portland made just two field goals, one by ex-Gonzaga Prep standout Ryan Nicholas with 18 seconds remaining, and four free throws in the last 7 minutes.

Robert Sacre and Harris, who was in early foul trouble, had a fairly quiet night, combining for 16 points and five rebounds. Olynyk contributed seven points and eight rebounds. Manny Arop chipped in eight points, three rebounds and two assists.

“I thought the bench came in and brought energy,” Arop said. “Kelly hit that big 3 and that other basket and that kind of made the gap bigger. From there, we caught fire and good defense leads to good offense.”

Mitrovic paced the Pilots with 16 points, connecting on 4 of 5 3-pointers. Sikma finished with 10 points and 11 rebounds.

“I just told the guys it was a game of poise,” Reveno said. “On the road, you have to have some toughness and you need to make some plays at key moments.”

Gonzaga 74, Portland 61

PortlandFGFTReb
(12-4, 0-1)MinM-AM-AO-TAPFPTS
Sikma314-62-22-114310
Knutson313-30-02-2046
Waterford335-80-00-31312
Stohl322-80-00-3415
Mitrovic365-102-20-20116
Riley10-00-00-0000
Douglas81-30-00-0002
Barker20-00-00-0000
Rodgers100-20-01-1030
Nicholas11-12-21-2004
Hannibal153-50-21-5036
Totals24-466-87-3191861

Percentages: FG .522, FT .750. 3-Point Goals: 7-12, .583 (Mitrovic 4-5, Waterford 2-2, Stohl 1-5). Team Rebounds: 2. Blocked Shots: 4 (Knutson 4). Turnovers: 20 (Waterford 6, Mitrovic 4, Sikma 3, Douglas 2, Knutson 2, Rodgers, Stohl, Hannibal). Steals: 2 (Waterford, Sikma). Technical Fouls: None.

GUFGFTReb
(11-5, 1-0)MinM-AM-AO-TAPFPTS
Harris172-72-21-1227
Sacre341-27-82-4039
Goodson282-53-50-4427
Keita100-00-00-2110
Gray367-163-30-22119
Carter10-10-00-0000
Arop202-42-23-3208
Stockton112-60-00-0014
Olynyk203-70-23-8007
Mninghff143-50-00-0029
Hart20-00-00-0000
Dower71-22-20-0024
Totals23-5519-2412-28111474

Percentages: FG .418, FT .792. 3-Point Goals: 9-25, .360 (Monninghoff 3-5, Arop 2-3, Gray 2-6, Harris 1-2, Olynyk 1-3, Carter 0-1, Goodson 0-1, Stockton 0-4). Team Rebounds: 4. Blocked Shots: 3 (Goodson, Keita, Harris). Turnovers: 9 (Sacre 2, Gray 2, Keita 2, Dower, Harris, Olynyk). Steals: 10 (Goodson 3, Sacre 2, Gray 2, Stockton, Arop, Harris). Technical Fouls: None.

Halftime—Gonzaga 47-29. A—6,000.


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