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Day after Santa Clara

Gonzaga's Marquise Carter works inside on Santa Clara's Troy Payne in the first half on Feb. 17, 2011. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)
Gonzaga's Marquise Carter works inside on Santa Clara's Troy Payne in the first half on Feb. 17, 2011. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)

Good morning. Back with more from Gonzaga's win over Santa Clara last night, which sets up a big game with San Francisco on Saturday.

First, the links: My game storyJohn Blanchette's columnDan Pelle's photos, A.P. gamer, and a recap by Santa Clara's sports information department.

Here's a USF-Portland game story.

Onward for my day-after Santa Clara post.

--Let’s start with junior guard Marquise Carter (pictured above), who turned in his best all-around game of the season. He re-entered the starting lineup four games ago. In his last three games, his combined numbers are 39 points, 10 rebounds and 14 assists. Three of his four double-figures scoring games have come in the last six games.

He’s also shown a knack for hitting a key basket and/or free throws, even earlier in the season when he wasn’t playing many minutes.

“Coming in here at first I knew I was struggling a lot, but I knew it would come to be because I’ve been playing this game for so long,” he said. “It was just a matter of time before I started playing with confidence. I’m not worrying about things. Coach is starting to believe in me more and he’s letting the ball be in my hands more. I’m just trying to make good decisions for my team and get us wins.”

--For at least the second time this season, GU went with the three-guard lineup of Carter, Goodson and Stockton for a long stretch. They helped Gonzaga extend a two-point lead to as many as 13 in the final minutes. That was the primary reason Steven Gray went to the bench with his fourth foul at 11:28 and didn’t return until 1:26 remained.

“I think Coach (Few) put us all in there together to lock up on the defensive end, especially with how ‘Meech’ was guarding. ‘Stock’ was playing good on offense and defense,” Carter said.

--That was one of the most physical games Gonzaga has played in this season. It wasn’t much different than the first meeting with Santa Clara, with a lot of clutching, grabbing and the occasional flop. On one loose ball in the first half, at least six players hit the floor trying to grab the basketball.

“Another battle,” center Robert Sacre said, “but hey, we got the win and that’s all that matters.”

Kelly Olynyk left midway through the second half with a cut over his eye after a collision with an SCU player as he was bringing the ball down court. Olynyk wasn’t sure how many stitches he received but it looked like at least four. He said the collision left him a bit dazed. He returned to the bench, but didn’t return to the game.

Olynyk contributed eight points and four boards in 13 first-half minutes. He was in the game for about two minutes in the second half when he was forced to leave with the cut.

“I would say that was one of the more physical games we’ve had this year,” he said. “San Diego State was unreal, but you can’t leave this one out when you’re talking about the most physical games of the year.”

--San Diego’s upset win over WCC-leading Saint Mary’s on Wednesday night brought Gonzaga and San Francisco back into the title picture. Both teams are one game back in the loss column heading into Saturday’s showdown at the MAC.

“We were all excited,” Stockton said. “We were texting each other back and forth. We were ready to play last night.”

Said Olynyk: “It’s just something else to fuel our fire. It only helps us knowing we’re still in it and we control our own destiny.”

--Elias Harris has had a rollercoaster sophomore season and he certainly had a down-and-up game Thursday. Harris didn’t score, didn’t attempt a shot, committed three fouls and had four turnovers in seven first-half minutes. But he played a pivotal role in the second half, coming up with 10 points on 4-of-4 shooting and six of his seven rebounds. Several of those boards were in traffic.

Harris, Sacre and Gray combined for GU’s first 14 points in the second half.

“I thought ‘E’ responded well, especially in the second half after struggling in the first half,” head coach Mark Few said.

STATS OF NOTE

--Gonzaga blocked nine shots, equaling its season high (vs. LCSC).

--Sacre swatted five shots, giving him a WCC-leading 54 on the season and 127 in his career. His career-high is six.

Sacre is tied with Austin Daye for fifth most blocks in a season. Sacre moved past Daye into third place in career blocks last night. Next on the career list is Ronny Turiaf (179) at No. 2.

--David Stockton missed all three of his free throws, which dropped his season percentage from 92.3 to 82.8.

--Mathis Mönninghoff has 38 field goals, 29 of them 3s. He’s 29 of 61 beyond the arc (47.5 percent).

--Kevin Foster scored 27 points in 26 minutes. He also put up 22 shots, 16 of them 3s, in 26 minutes. (Foster scored 24 points in the second half of SCU’s win over GU last month. Combined with his 18 in the first half Thursday, he had 42 points in a 40-minute span against the Bulldogs.)

--Foster was 8 of 16 on 3s, 0 of 6 on 2s.

--Gonzaga won the boards 41-37, but the hard-working Broncos had 19 offensive rebounds, leading to a 19-9 edge in second-chance points.

--Gonzaga won the points in the paint 34-16.

--With 20 points last night, Carter becomes the sixth different Zag (Sacre, Goodson, Harris, Dower, Gray) to have a 20-point game this season.

--Gray played 20 minutes, his fewest in a game when he wasn’t dealing with an injury. In GU’s last 14 games, he has played at least 30 minutes 11 times. He played 26 in a rout of San Diego and 28 in the first (fairly comfortable) victory over Pepperdine in January.

--Santa Clara became this sixth straight GU opponent to shoot under 39 percent from the field. SCU made 32.8 percent, 24.3 percent in the final 20 minutes.

--Of the nine Zags that scored, eight had at least seven points.

QUOTES

Stockton: “It was definitely physical, a lot of slapping back and forth.”

Few on Stockton’s block of Foster’s 3-point attempt: “I don’t think I’ve seen that out of him before. It’s kind of what he’s been doing game in and game out. He’s a tough guy, he’s got a great feel and he’s not afraid. Those are good qualities.”

Sacre on San Diego’s win: “I didn’t even watch the game, but I heard about and people texted me. No matter what happened, we still have our goals.”




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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