LOS ANGELES (AP) - J.P. Batista scored his only three points for
Gonzaga when they mattered most.
Batista pulled down a key offensive rebound and converted a
three-point play with 9.1 seconds left Saturday night, giving the
14th-ranked Bulldogs a four-point lead in a 61-58 victory over
Loyola Marymount. Damian Martin missed a potential tying 3-pointer at the buzzer. "I'm hoping the next time it doesn't come to the last shot,"
Gonzaga forward Ronny Turiaf said. "Everybody wants a piece of us
pretty badly." Turiaf had 20 points, 11 rebounds and six blocks. He went
6-for-8 from the field and 8-for-11 from the foul line. Adam Morrison added 16 points and 12 rebounds, and Erroll Knight had 10
points for Gonzaga (19-4, 10-2 West Coast Conference), which has
won six straight. But it was Batista's big play that saved the Bulldogs.
"I just got into position," he said, "and grabbed the ball.
It was a sloppy game." Brandon Worthy and Matthew Knight led Loyola with 13 points
apiece. The Bulldogs stumbled all night. They shot just 42 percent from
the field, including 2-of-13 on 3-pointers, and had 20 turnovers to
Loyola's seven. But Gonzaga pulled down the first seven rebounds of the game and
outrebounded the Lions 50-30. "If they don't play perfectly, they find a way to win,"
Gonzaga coach Mark Few said. "Tonight it was rebounding. It
carried us, and has been carrying us." Gonzaga has outrebounded its last six opponents. The Bulldogs
extended their conference lead to 1½ games over second-place Saint
Mary's. Loyola Marymount (3-7, 11-12) has lost eight of 10. Gonzaga took a 36-28 lead soon after halftime. But with 12:17
remaining, Worthy hit a layup to give Loyola its first lead in
nearly 22 minutes. The lead changed hands twice before Gonzaga went
on an 11-2 run, which included a two-handed dunk by Turiaf. After the Lions took a 14-10 lead, the Bulldogs went on a 15-2
spurt, capped by Derek Raivo's 3-pointer. Gonzaga stretched the lead to 29-19, but Loyola answered with a
7-0 spurt and trailed 32-28 at halftime.