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Day after Cincinnati, Maui

The Maui News had a couple of nice photos -- one a Zags team gathered on the court after the victory on the front page, one of Rob Sacre hoisting the trophy on the front of the sports section and another of Cashmere Wright's last-second runner in mid-air on an inside page.

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone! I've checked in for my flight, bought the appropriate souvenirs and just need to finish off this day after post, following GU's 61-59 win over Cincinnati in the championship game of the Maui Invitational..

Take a look below.

I'm having Internet issues this morning (thankfully there were no problems last night when we had early deadlines due to Thanksgiving) so you'll have to surf on your own. I recommend the Maui Times, Cincinnati Enquirer and S-R, of course. Make sure to take a look at Maui Times' photos, if they're on line.

--We’ll start out with the bumps and bruises. This one was a physical battle from the opening tip. On GU’s first possession, Cincy trapped Bouldin on the left wing, bumped him as he made a pass, forcing the senior guard into the media table about 5 feet from my location.

Demetri Goodson probably thought he was back in his cornerback days as a sophomore at Klein Collins High. He got nailed by a screen in the first half and came up limping. He was also at the center of a second-half play that ended with technical fouls on Rob Sacre, Goodson and Cincy’s Wright and Steve Toyloy. Goodson was fouled hard on a drive to the hoop and he had an exchange with Wright. Then Sacre and Toyloy got into a pushing match.

GU trailed by 5 at the time and would soon be down by 10. But it seemed the game was officiated tighter after the altercation and that probably led to a bit more fluid offense from both teams. Gonzaga was in the bonus with 15:07 left in the second half!

“That was the most physical game I’ve had in college so far,” Sacre said. “I didn’t play against North Carolina (last season in the NCAAs), so I don’t know about that one. Those two bigs (Yancy Gates and Toyloy) for Cincinnati … they’re great posts. They tested me and my team. I give it up to them.”

Said Matt Bouldin: “That was probably the most physical team I’ve played – this year definitely. They’re a great rebounding team.”

--Hey it was a tough night all around. GU radio broadcaster Richard Fox told me his chair – these babies were a tad on the flimsy side – gave out in the first half and he took a tumble in mid-sentence. Fox, rarely at a loss for words, probably didn’t even lose his train of thought.

--Not sure how Sacre got left off the all-tournament team. I thought he might even be in the MVP discussion. Not sure how they arrived at the all-tourney team, either, since they didn’t hand out ballots to the media (that’s standard practice).

Bouldin and Gray were co-MVPs. They were joined on the all-tourney team by Arizona’s Nic Wise, Cincy’s Deonta Vaughn and Yancy Gates and Wisconsin’s Trevon Hughes.

Gray was the tourney’s leading scorer with 55 points. He had 13 points, seven boards and two key assists to Sacre in the title game. Bouldin struggled offensively in the finale, but finished the three games with 45 points, 22 rebounds and 13 assists. Both were deserving of their awards.

“I wouldn’t want to share this with anybody else,” Bouldin said. “Steven’s been playing out of his mind and I’m just happy for him and what he’s done.”

Gray said, “When I first got here, Matt sort of took me under his wing, kept my mind and head right in my freshman year going through the ups and downs. It seems like the longest season is your first season.”

--Winning Maui is typically a harbinger of good things. Only Dayton (2003) has come from a conference other than the six major conferences to win in Maui. Now Gonzaga joins the list. Three Maui winners (Michigan 1988, North Carolina 2005, UNC in 2008) have gone on to win NCAA titles. Three other Maui champs (UNC 1999, Arizona 2000, UCLA 2006) advanced to the Final Four.

--Sacre and Harris pounded away with Cincy’s Gates and Toyloy. Sacre delivered 14 points, five boards and three blocks. Harris added 13 points and seven rebounds. Gates finished with 11 and 7, but he made just 4 of 12 field goals. On one first-half attempt, his shot from 10 feet hit the top of the backboard and went out of play.

Sacre had the game-tying basket with 15.6 seconds left in regulation and a dunk in overtime that was GU’s only field goal in the extra session.

“We threw it in there and Rob has been delivering no matter who is guarding him,” Bouldin said. “You gotta keep feeding the big dog, especially when he’s doing well.”

--Goodson had 12 points and two steals. For the second straight game he didn’t have an assist, but the offense is clearly running through Bouldin and Gray on the perimeter and Sacre and Harris on the interior. Goodson had another solid night defensively and he was the defender on Wright’s last-second drive in overtime. A replay showed Goodson stayed in front of Wright and forced him to take a fairly tough shot over him in the closing seconds.

--GU starters logged heavy minutes in the team’s third game in three days. Harris 40 minutes, Sacre and Goodson 38, Bouldin 42 and Gray 43. Cincy used its bench more and came away with a 16-3 edge in points from reserves.

Gray and Sacre have scored in double figures in all six GU games. Bouldin reached double digits in the first five. Harris has four double-figures games and two others with eight points.

QUOTEBOOK

Few: “I’m just proud as heck of our guys. Cincinnati is playing some great basketball right now. They’re incredibly tough on both ends of the floor with their physical nature. They’re going to be a force down the stretch.”

Gray on the pass to Sacre, leading to the tying basket late in regulation: “The play sort of broke down. Coaches have been on him when things slow down to sprint out and set a ball screen. They couldn’t get a show (defensively) on me. Rob made it a real easy.”

Few on Sacre’s block on Gates on the final play of regulation: “It was open, but Rob closed it very quickly. Heck of a defensive play.”

Cronin: “We’re a better shooting team than we’re shooting the ball right now. If look at our 3-point percentage I think we’re 26-27 percent. We have too good of shooters for that. We’re up two late in the game and rotate the ball and get a wide open shot to go up five with less than a minute to play and it doesn’t go down (Stephenson miss). We had a couple of those.”

Few on winning tourney: “This is the kingpin or any other analogy you’d like to use. When you look up and see all the teams that have won this thing and what they’ve accomplished after they won this thing, it makes you feel great for your guys. And the manner in which we had to win it … we had to dig ourselves out of a hole against Colorado. We played a very efficient game against a Wisconsin team that if you don’t play efficient you lose. Then we got in a backyard brawl tonight and won it that way. We won it a lot of different fashions. I think that’s a good sign.”

 Gray on the competitiveness of the game: “Everyone’s tired, battling fatigue. That comes with two teams sort of hungry to win. We huddled after that (double techs on both teams) and said keep our heads in the game and keep doing what we’re doing and we’ll be fine.”

Bouldin on GU’s crowd support: “It felt like a home game in Maui. That definitely helps us down the stretch.”

Gates on GU’s inside players: “They boxed me out pretty good. They played great defense. They have big strong players like we do and they play like we do -- crashing the glass.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



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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