Tepid shooting dooms Broncos at the Kennel

SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) -- J.P. Batista and his Gonzaga teammates
sent the rest of the West Coast Conference a message this week with
wins over its two toughest league opponents.

"This sets the tone for the second half of the season,"
Batista said. "We struggled in the beginning, but we are back. We
are on top of this league."

Batista had 19 points and a career-high 15 rebounds, and Gonzaga (No. 21 ESPN/USA Today; No. 17 AP) beat cold-shooting Santa Clara 92-75 on Saturday. On Thursday, the
Bulldogs edged Saint Mary's to climb into a tie with the Gaels for
first place.

Ronny Turiaf and Adam Morrison each scored 22 points, and point
guard Derek Raivio added 19 points and 10 assists for Gonzaga
(17-4, 7-2 WCC) in the foul-plagued game.

The Bulldogs built an early lead as Santa Clara made only one of
its first 13 shots.

Santa Clara (12-12, 5-4 WCC), which has wins over North Carolina
and Stanford this season and normally plays Gonzaga tough, shot
just 39 percent. Kyle Bailey led the Broncos with 25 points,
hitting 10 of 11 free throws.

"We got out to a poor start," Santa Clara coach Dick Davey
said. "It became a constant come-from-behind situation.

"[Gonzaga] played as well as I've seen them play," he added.

It was a typical physical game between the two rivals, with
Santa Clara getting called for 27 fouls and Gonzaga 21. Santa Clara
had two technicals and Gonzaga one.

"Emotions were running high," said Davey, whose team lost by
only four the teams' first meeting at Santa Clara.

"It's just a brawl out there it seems like," Raivio added.

Gonzaga won its 10th straight against Santa Clara by using its
superior height inside to outrebound the Broncos 44-28.

Santa Clara trailed by 10 at halftime, but Bailey's 3-pointer
capped an 8-0 run that cut Gonzaga's lead to 50-43 early in the
second. Gonzaga replied with seven straight points, four on inside
baskets by Batista.

Then Morrison hit three 3-pointers in a 2-minute span during a
12-3 run by Gonzaga that gave the Bulldogs a 69-48 lead with 12:39

The Bulldogs sank 13 of their first 19 shots of the second half
to run away with the game, and finished with 50 percent shooting.

Gonzaga coach Mark Few was pleased with the way his team
responded to Santa Clara's second-half run. He was also impressed
by the aggressive play of Turiaf, who had eight rebounds and two
blocked shots.

"Ronny is back to attacking as good as he was at the start of
the year," Few said. "He's been a little reactive and gun-shy
after spraining both ankles."

After Santa Clara's Mitch Henke made a 3-pointer in the opening
seconds of the game, the Broncos missed 12 field goal attempts
until Travis Niesen sank a short jumper with 11:04 left to pull to

Santa Clara was just 3-of-21 from the field at one point. But
Gonzaga could not pull away, and Doron Perkins scored six
unanswered points for the Broncos to cut Gonzaga's lead to 23-17.

Gonzaga led 41-31 at halftime behind 43 percent shooting and
Batista's 12 points and 10 rebounds. Santa Clara made just nine of
30 shots in the half.

Both teams were assessed technical fouls in the first half.
Perkins, the Broncos' second leading scorer at 15 ppg, picked up a
technical early in the second, his fourth foul of the game, and
fouled out with 10 points on 2-of-12 shooting.

Technicals also played a role in the teams' first meeting at
Santa Clara, when the Broncos had three in a game that Gonzaga won
by just four points.

Gonzaga is 34-0 at home when ranked and has won 22 in a row at
home overall.

Gonzaga has held nine opponents under 40 percent shooting this
season, and only Portland State and Washington have shot better
than 50 percent.