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Day after Baylor

The Zags have been searching for a so-called 'resume win' and they landed one Saturday in Dallas, edging No. 9 Baylor 68-64, to end a nine-game losing streak versus ranked teams.

We'll start the day-after post with the links: S-R gamer, Dallas Morning News photos and column.

Read on.

--Gonzaga’s bench came up huge in a game where it was desperately needed. Steven Gray played just 15 minutes before leaving with back spasms and starters Rob Sacre and Elias Harris were in foul trouble. That opened up additional time for Sam Dower, Kelly Olynyk and Marquise Carter.

 

Dower had 10 points. Olynyk had seven points, five rebounds and two assists in 21 turnover-free minutes. Carter had a breakout performance with 13 points, 2 of 3 3s and 7 of 8 free throws.

 

“It feels so good to get this win,” Sacre said. “We’ve had some tough games. I think I’m more proud of our bench. It’s one of those things where people have been doubting our bench. It just goes to show you can’t leave us alone. Our guys will come in and hit big shots.”

 

Gonzaga made 4 of 6 3s in the second half, space no doubt opened up because of the inside presence with Sacre, Dower and Elias Harris, before he fouled out. Olynyk swished a 3 with 1:45 left to put Gonzaga in front to stay. Carter made a pair of 3s to give GU the lead at 52-49.

 

Gonzaga was able to keep the ball in Carter’s hands down the stretch when Baylor was forced to foul. Carter made 7 of 8 free throws. He missed one with 6.9 seconds and Gonzaga in front 67-64, but then iced the victory by making the second. Demetri Goodson also hit two big free throws with 1:35 remaining. Goodson, who entered the game a 46.2 percent free-throw shooter, was 4 of 4 at the stripe.

 

“It takes a guy with enough courage to step up in the heat of the game and let it rip,” coach Mark Few said of Carter. “I’m really proud of Marquise. It’s kind of why we brought him in, to be able to shoot the ball and play with some poise. It was nice to see it. I thought he had a nice control of the game.”

 

Gonzaga’s bench outscored the Bears’ 32-6.

 

--This was probably how GU envisioned its offense would run (albeit with a higher shooting percentage) at the outset of the year. With four ‘bigs’ in Sacre, Harris, Olynyk and Dower, the Zags wanted to operate inside-out. That was the approach against Baylor’s 2-3 (1-1-3 if you prefer) zone, finding Sacre in particular in the lane almost anytime it wanted.

 

GU’s bigs attempted 34 shots and I’m guessing at least 27-28 were from 10 feet or closer. They were also a big reason Baylor’s bigs were in foul trouble.

 

“Certainly the big boy (Sacre) makes a very nice target to throw it in to,” Few said. “He’s able to operate in there when we get him a touch. Our guys did a nice job of seeing him through the forest (of Baylor defenders). And our guys stepped up and hit big shots, Marquise, Kelly, (Mathis) Mönninghoff hit one. My young kids got in and made some baskets when we were in unbelievable foul trouble. We haven’t seen foul trouble like this in a long, long time.”

 

Added Few: “They were kind of collapsing down on Rob, so we looked at Rob, brought it to his side and then we turned it. We got Mönninghoff a 3 with that same action.”

--Gonzaga's tough schedule has been well chronicled, but it seemed to pay off when the game was on the line against Baylor. Other than a couple of turnovers by Goodson, the Zags executed well down the stretch and showed the benefits of being battle-tested. 

Meanwhile, Baylor struggled in crunch time. Coming in, the Bears were 7-0 against a soft schedule, all played at Ferrell Center in Waco.

"We're a young team with one senior and a lot of guys in different roles this year," Baylor coach Scott Drew told the Dallas Morning News. "Really, it's the first time we've been pushed like this. When you're up one with 2 minutes to play, you want to win those games."

--Like last Thursday with Gray’s stubbed toe, it wasn’t easy to determine when the senior guard hurt his back, even after watching the sequence several times. TV announcers pointed out Gray seeming to tweak his back helping Goodson get up after he drew a charging foul. In particular Gray appeared to lock up when picking up the ball to give it to the official.

“Steven didn’t even get hit,” Few said. “He was running down the floor and cramps up. For us to survive all that, survive a run like that, they finally take the lead (59-58) and the crowd’s going, and Kelly stepped up and made a big 3.”

Gray had two points, two assists and two steals in his 15 minutes, but did a solid job defensively on LaceDarius Dunn, who had just seven points at the break on 1 of 6 shooting. Goodson was the primary defender on Dunn in the second half.

“Our guys did a great job on him, especially with Steven out,” Sacre said. “He’s a great player.”

--Harris was in foul trouble for most of the game. Few thought he had a safe spot to insert Harris with 6:35 left with Baylor’s Perry Jones awaiting a free-throw attempt. Harris came in, and then the ball stuck in the crease between the rim and glass on Jones’ free throw (never seen that on a FT attempt). Anyway, it’s an automatic jump ball with the possession arrow favoring Baylor.

The Bears threw the ball inside to Quincy Acy and Harris was whistled for a mysterious foul (for standing still?) and was out of the game 13 seconds later.

 

STATS OF NOTE

 

--The game was tied 14 times and there were 15 lead changes, 12 in the second half.

 

--Biggest leads of the game: GU by six, Baylor by three.

 

--The Zags were 20 of 24 from the free-throw line.

 

--Baylor had five assists and 17 turnovers.

 

--Points in the paint: Gonzaga 32, Baylor 18.

 

--Both teams had 33 rebounds, both had nine offensive and 24 defensive.

 

--Goodson, scoreless in the previous two games, had six points.

 

QUOTES

 

Few on Gray’s impact: “We haven’t won a practice without him, ever.”

 

Sacre on GU’s switching defenses: “We’ve learned, and the best word I can use here is we didn’t have ‘mind farts’ in the game. Let’s be real here, we didn’t have any mind farts and mess up our defense. We knew what the game plan was.”

 

Few on GU’s defense: “I think we switched defenses a lot, I think that helped us. Through this murderer’s row (schedule) it’s been hard to get any defensive rhythm because it’s mostly been on the road or quasi-neutral environments like tonight and teams have made a lot of shots against us. We guarded good, we rebounded good, and that’s a very good offensive rebounding team.”  

 

More Few on GU’s defense: “The one thing we did on defense is we directed the shots. Outside of a couple of rebounds and one or two in transition, we did a nice job. We wanted to make their bigs shoot jump shots.”

 

Few on attacking Baylor’s zone: “I’m really proud of how our guys attacked their zone. It’s not something you see every day. It’s almost impossible to recreate in practice with the little smurfs we have running around. Most of our turnovers were kind of silly foot turnovers.”

 



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