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Day after San Francisco

San Francisco's Kwame Vaughn loses his balance as he drives to the basket in front of Gonzaga's Micah Downs during the first half in San Francisco. (George Nikitin / Associated Press)
San Francisco's Kwame Vaughn loses his balance as he drives to the basket in front of Gonzaga's Micah Downs during the first half in San Francisco. (George Nikitin / Associated Press)

I've traveled home, had the requisite number of computer issues, so I'll take another stab at getting this post off the ground. Lots of stuff to get to after Gonzaga's 78-73 win over San Francisco. Read on for the day-after USF post.


Links: Here's the San Francisco Chronicle game story and Ray Ratto's column on USF's fortunes.


--Reserve guard Demetri ‘Meech’ Goodson was summoned soon after Jeremy Pargo’s second turnover, which came early in the first half.

Goodson quickly made a layup and a bank shot. He finished on the break after a nifty pass fake fooled a Dons defender. In between, Goodson had a steal and fed Pargo for a layup.

“I was just letting the game come to me,” he said. “In high school, I was a pretty good scorer. This team has so many good offensive players I’ve never really had to score. It just felt good tonight.”

Goodson surpassed his career high (eight points vs. Utah) when he made his first 3-pointer of the season. He had been 0 of 5 entering the game. That 3 gave GU a 34-26 lead and he made another 3 to bump the margin to nine. He finished with 12 points in the half.

Goodson’s only point of the second half came at the foul line. He also drew a charging foul.

--Gonzaga was careless with the ball at the outset. Four different players had turnovers on GU’s first four possessions. The Bulldogs had 12 turnovers in the first half, leading to 18 USF points. The Zags were nearly turnover-free in the second half until committing three inside the final 3 minutes.

Pargo, Austin Daye and Josh Heytvelt each had four turnovers. Pargo has 12 assists and 14 turnovers the last three games, and it’s costing him some playing time. Goodson logged a season-high 25 minutes against USF.

“I lost the ball a couple times; the first one I got stripped, it was a pretty good defensive play actually,” Pargo said. “Another one was a dumb turnover (on an inbounds) pass (that) hit the backboard. We didn’t take care of the ball. As you saw last year, turnovers was one of our downfalls and it could come back to hurt us if we don’t clean it up.”

Head coach Mark Few was blunt with his assessment. “Some of our guys are starting games way too casual. I think they’re trying to get into a flow and get others into the flow, (and) it’s leading to casual passes and silly turnovers. We were really efficient, if we didn’t turn the ball over.

“Sixteen turnovers -- that’s too many. Jeremy has to quit turning the ball over. He’s just turning the ball over too much.”

Gonzaga has had more turnovers than assists in four of its last five games.

--Dons first-year coach Rex Walters has gone to a relaxed dress code. Walters and his staff wear bright yellow polo shirts during games for the last month or so because Walters wasn’t comfortable in a suit and tie. To complete the casual look, Walters didn’t tuck in his shirt.

--Gonzaga’s bench outscored San Francisco’s 20-9. Of course, USF is down four players who were suspended by Walters earlier in the week. Goodson’s 13, Steven Gray’s five and Ira Brown’s 2 accounted for GU’s points. Reserve center Will Foster, who was a difference-maker in 13 minutes against Saint Mary’s, didn’t play against the Dons.

“Meech was terrific,” Few said. “And I thought Ira gave us some good minutes.”

Brown had four rebounds and a blocked shot. The block came with GU leading 55-51 and Brown capped the sequence on the other end with a transition bucket while getting fouled. He missed the free throw.

--Micah Downs returned to the starting lineup for the first time since Dec. 31 (Utah). He has played well of late while Steven Gray, who unseated Downs as the starter for the last seven weeks, has slumped recently. Gray was 2 of 5 from the floor against USF in just 15 minutes. He missed an uncontested layup and a dunk.

“I’ve played hard with a lot of passion and coach recognized that and rewarded it by putting me back in there,” said Downs, who had eight points, three rebounds and two assists.

Downs has made 9 of his last 12 shots. His scoring averaged dropped from 10.3 in mid-December to 8.3 when he came off the bench for 11 games.

--Gonzaga wore its new black uniforms for the second straight road game.

“We’re 2-0 (wearing them),” Daye said. “You gotta love them. It’s something different. I like it.”

“It’s kind of nice to have a change of colors from the blue and white,” Matt Bouldin said. “I like them.”

--San Francisco guards sagged off Pargo and Goodson whenever the GU guards had the ball near the 3-point line, daring them to shoot. Goodson made a pair of 3s and Pargo hit a key 3 from the top of the key with 5:16 left that gave Gonzaga a 68-59 lead.

“It’s kind of tough getting into a rhythm on offense,” Bouldin said. “A lot of teams have been packing it in like that. It basically gets us out of rhythm if we’re not hitting from the outside.”

Gonzaga made 9 of 17 3s (52.9 percent).

Meanwhile, San Francisco was red hot on 3s – 14 of 22 for the game, 9 of 12 in the second half. Continuing a strange trend, Kwame Vaughn became the latest opponent to bank home a 3-pointer against the Zags, joining Saint Mary’s Carlin Hughes and Memphis’ Tyreke Evans. And possibly others.

“I think that’s six (games) in a row,” Few said. “It’s just one of those years.”

Few said Gonzaga’s intention was to take away 3s.

“Believe it or not, the plan was not to let them get 3s,” he said. “That’s all we covered in practice (Friday) and shootaround (Saturday). This group needs to do a better job of sticking to the plan. For most part, they have done that, and that’s why our defensive field-goal percentage has been low. But it seems like we’ve lost our way a little with that, with Memphis, this one and even Saint Mary’s.”

--For the first time this season, Josh Heytvelt didn’t have a free-throw attempt. For just the second time this season, he didn’t have a 3-point attempt.


Pargo on USF’s 3-point shooting: “Anytime you have to deal with a team making 14 of 22 3s, it’s going to be a tough day. To their credit they played with a lot of energy. They didn’t have a lot of (crowd) support, but they created their own energy. They did some things we weren’t able to stop; they ran some shuffle cuts and some down screens that hurt us.”

Pargo on GU sticking together through various USF runs: “One of the things we could have done is break up and blamed each other for letting guys hit open shots, but we stuck together. That’s been one of the goals of this team, to stick together and not splinter. Sometimes we did that last year, and we did a good job of not letting that happen tonight.”

Downs on the Dons’ deadly perimeter shooting: “They shot the best they’ve probably shot it the whole year. We toughed it out, we stuck together, like Pargo said. And that’s the important thing.

“We were kind of over-helping on defense. Guys would drive to the basket and we were helping on them too much and leaving their 3-point shooters open.”

Daye on Gonzaga’s 16 turnovers: “At one point our assist-to-turnover ratio was very good and now we’re struggling. We definitely have to get back on track, including me. I had a lot of turnovers I shouldn’t have had.”


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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