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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Zags glad to have old Turiaf back in fold

Gonzaga’s Ronny Turiaf has re-entered the building.

And with Paul Westphal bringing his enigmatic, but immensely talented, Pepperdine Waves into McCarthey Athletic Center for today’s 5 p.m. West Coast Conference game with the Bulldogs, the timing couldn’t be better.

Turiaf, the Zags’ 6-foot-10 senior co-captain, seemed to check out after spraining both of his ankles during a star-crossed, three-week period last month. But he checked back in on Thursday with 16 points, seven rebounds, three assists, two blocks and two steals in GU’s 76-65 win over Loyola Marymount.

“I’m still not the Ronny of old,” he claimed afterward, “but I’m closer, that’s for sure. It was nice to get down low and finish, instead of worrying about making the basket or not. Maybe the Ronny of old will come back by Saturday.”

Bulldogs coach Mark Few is convinced he has already arrived.

“He’s back. That was the old Ronny,” Few declared following Thursday’s victory, which raised the 16th-ranked Bulldogs’ record to 12-3 overall and 2-1 in the WCC. “He was bouncing around, he played with confidence, he played with fire, he played with emotion, and he picked a good time, because we really, really needed him.”

And the Zags will likely need him again tonight against a Pepperdine team (12-6, 2-1) that has been impossible to figure out.

The Waves steamrolled nationally ranked Wisconsin early in the season and played both UCLA and California tough on their home courts before losing by scores of 85-83 and 61-58. They bumped off San Diego and San Francisco to open league play, but then inexplicably folded on Thursday night, losing 81-71 to a Portland team that was picked to finish last in the WCC.

Pepperdine returns three starters, including all-league picks Glen McGowan and Yakhouba Diawara, from last year’s 15-16 team that tied for second in the conference standings. The Waves boast one of the WCC’s most versatile perimeter players in junior guard Alex Aker, who is averaging 15.5 points, 6.9 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game.

“They’re probably as talented as any team on the West Coast,” Few said of the Waves. “They remind you of Washington with how they can score in a variety of ways and how athletic they are. And when they’re on, and when they’re fired up for a game – like they will be for us, they’re a handful.

“For whatever reason, they don’t seem to be able to get up for some of those other teams. But we’re not in the same boat as those other teams, so we’re going to see their best effort of the year, I’m sure.”

Tonight’s game is sold out.