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Sunday, September 22, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Blue Devils throttle GU by 35

Any time I have to drag out the reading glasses, it means bad news for somebody -- Gonzaga or Gonzaga's opponent. It means I'm scanning the Gonzaga media guide to see where a win/loss, point total, shooting percentage, etc., ranks in the school records.

Today, it was Gonzaga's turn as the Bulldogs were blasted 76-41 by No. 7 Duke. There haven't been many of these blowouts in recent years (Memphis, Illinois, Virginia off the top of my head), but this one wasn't in doubt after Duke's 18-2 run midway through the first half.

I wasn't on hand to witness the drubbing live, but I've cobbled together a game story, with the help of GU SID Oliver Pierce and the wire services. You can read the unedited version below.


The showdown was a big letdown.

No. 7 Duke dealt Gonzaga its worst loss in 20 years and held the Bulldogs to their lowest point total in 25 seasons by administering a 76-41 men’s basketball drubbing Saturday at Madison Square Garden in New York.

In one of the world’s most famed arenas, the 15th-ranked Bulldogs absorbed one of their most lopsided defeats. A week after scoring 103 points on Davidson, Gonzaga (8-3) needed a late 3-pointer from Bol Kong to crack the 40-point barrier. The 41 points was Gonzaga’s fewest since a 62-40 loss to Iowa in the second game of the 1984-85 season. The 35-point setback was the Zags’ worst since they were clobbered by Loyola Marymount 121-84 at the WCC Tournament to end the 1989-90 campaign.

We got throttled in every aspect of basketball,” Gonzaga coach Mark Few said. “Their physical play bothered us as far as finishing shots around the rim. They outrebounded us. We turned the ball over more and they took more free throws. It was just an old-fashioned take you out to the woodshed and beat you down.”

Gonzaga is 1-4 at Madison Square Garden. Two of those losses have come against Duke, which won its sixth straight at MSG and is 21-6 in the building under coach Mike Krzyzewski. Duke is 3-0 at MSG this season.

The Bulldogs were uneven offensively from the start. Their only field goal in the first 7-plus minutes was a dunk by Will Foster on a feed from Matt Bouldin, who returned to the lineup after a one-game absence. Duke used an 18-2 run to wipe out GU’s 10-8 lead. The Blue Devils (9-1) led 31-17 at half as Gonzaga made just seven field goals while committing 13 turnovers. Duke was 5 of 18 with eight turnovers before settling down at the offensive end.

Duke starting guards Nolan Smith (24 points) and Jon Scheyer (20) combined to outscore Gonzaga. Smith made three second-half 3-pointers as he equaled his career-high point total. Scheyer scored 14 points in the first half. He finished with eight assists and five rebounds. Senior Kyle Singler had nine points and 11 rebounds, a statistic Duke dominated 45-35.

“We both started out kind of wrestling around in there, not getting much accomplished,” Few said. “Then the poise of Singler and Scheyer, and I thought Smith did a really good job of making plays. He took us off the bounce. They kind of broke through their malaise and we never did.”

Robert Sacre led Gonzaga with nine points on 2-of-11 shooting. The Bulldogs committed 18 turnovers, including six by Harris and five by Bouldin. GU made 27.8 percent from the field, 1 of 10 3-pointers and 10 of 21 free throws. Kong’s 3-pointer in the closing seconds extended Gonzaga’s streak of games with a trey to 537, dating back to Jan. 27, 1993.

The starting backcourt of Bouldin, Steven Gray and Demetri Goodson combined for just 12 points on 5-of-18 shooting.

“They weren’t able to run some of the things they normally do,” Krzyzewski said. “Bouldin and Gray get a lot of 3s.  Half of their shots are 3s so they didn’t get many open looks.”

Duke scored the first nine points of the second half, but the Bulldogs answered with six straight points to pull within 16. Gonzaga went nine minutes between field goals as Duke stretched its lead to 61-28.

We have to put this one out of our minds,” Few said. “This was an aberration. This team has not played or competed like this. They’ve been great at competing when there were challenges, stepping up and rising to it.”

The Bulldogs will have a few days off before returning to practice Christmas Day. Gonzaga entertains Eastern Washington on Monday, Dec. 28th.

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Jim Meehan
Jim Meehan joined The Spokesman-Review in 1990. Jim is currently a reporter for the Sports Desk and covers Gonzaga University basketball, Spokane Empire football, college volleyball and golf.

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