9:00 PM ET, March 6, 2005
Leavey Center, Santa Clara, California
SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- Mark Few worried all week that he might be tiring his team with intense practices and fine-tuning. Then Gonzaga went out and had one of its best offensive games of the season. Adam Morrison had 25 points and a career-high eight assists and the 12th-ranked Bulldogs reached the West Coast Conference tournament title game for the eighth straight year with a 90-74 rout of San Diego on Sunday. J.P Batista added 24 points and 10 rebounds for the Zags (24-4), who their 11th straight game to begin their quest for a sixth WCC tournament title in seven years. "We were very good for stretches, as good a combination of defensive intensity and disruption with great offensive execution," said Few, the Zags' sixth-year coach. "It was fun to watch." Gonzaga matched its best shooting half this season by making 65.6 percent from the field in the first half -- and did it with second-leading scorer Ronny Turiaf on the bench in foul trouble for all but 5 minutes. The Bulldogs will play Monday night against the winner of Sunday's late game between second-seeded Saint Mary's and No. 3 Santa Clara. Derek Raivio added 14 points and Pierre Marie Altidor-Cespedes had nine points with three 3-pointers and five assists for Gonzaga, which is headed for its seventh consecutive NCAA tournament appearance. "We were sharing the ball, moving it around and we let the game come to us," Morrison said. "That's the best we've passed all year." Floyd North III had 16 points and Nick Lewis added 15 points and eight rebounds for the Toreros (16-13). Brandon Gay finished with 15 points on 6-for-12 shooting, a night after scoring a career-high 34 points in an 86-80 quarterfinal win over Pepperdine. Turiaf picked up his second foul less than 2 minutes into the game. He came in averaging 16.6 points, but was held to two points on 1-for-7 shooting and only five rebounds. Morrison picked up the slack, going 10-for-17 and also grabbing five rebounds while leading the Zags' dominant performance on both ends of the floor. Turiaf went down hard when fouled by Gay on a fast-break layin attempt with 7:33 left. He got up, but missed both free throws. "It was obviously tough on Ronny," Few said. "It's hard to get your rhythm when you get two quick fouls. Last year he didn't play well in the semis and came out and played great in the finals." The Bulldogs received a bye into the semis by going 12-2 and winning the regular-season title, but showed no signs of rust after not playing in six days. They have won 14 of the last 15 meetings against San Diego, including both this season by a combined 29 points. Gonzaga hasn't lost since a 73-70 defeat at San Francisco on Jan. 20. "It looked like they made everything they looked at," San Diego coach Brad Holland said. "I would think that was one of Gonzaga's best halves they've played all year. Unfortunately it was against us." This is the Zags' eighth straight season reaching 20 wins -- and they were tested more often this year in the much-improved WCC, which reached its highest ranking of seventh in the conference RPI standings behind the six power leagues. San Diego made an impressive turnaround this season, finishing 7-7 in WCC play after going 1-13 a year ago. Gay scored 10 straight during one first-half spurt, but Gonzaga's up-tempo offense eventually wore down the overmatched Toreros. And Morrison and Erroll Knight combined to fluster Gay. "The first half, we started getting too fast and missing shots," Gay said. "And they kept making shots. They can put five guys on the floor at any time who can beat you." San Diego also had to deal with the Bulldogs' huge rowdy, red-clad contingent that took up the majority of seats at the Leavey Center, where the Gonzaga women's team lost in the WCC title game earlier in the day to host Santa Clara. The Zags made 12 of their first 20 shots but San Diego stayed close by going 4-for-9 from 3-point range. Batista, the conference newcomer of the year, hit a 3 from the top of the arc 6:33 before halftime for a 32-23 Gonzaga lead, and the Zags ended the first half on a 13-2 run to take a 54-33 lead at the break.
Team Stat Comparison
|FG Made-Attempted||26-60 (.433)||34-62 (.548)|
|3P Made-Attempted||10-24 (.417)||8-15 (.533)|
|FT Made-Attempted||12-17 (.706)||14-20 (.700)|
|Fouls (Tech/Flagrant)||17 (0/0)||15 (0/0)|