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Courtesy: Torrey Vail

Gonzaga Has No Complaints With 85-42 Blowout Of Santa Clara

Courtesy: Associated Press
          Release: 02/20/2013
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SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) - Gonzaga didn't have much to complain about after a blowout of Santa Clara.

The third-ranked Zags jumped out to an early lead and ran past Santa Clara 85-42 on Wednesday night.

``It might be one of our best performances,'' Gonzaga guard Mike Hart said. ``We shut them down offensively.''

Elias Harris scored 17 points and Kelly Olynyk added 15 points for Gonzaga (26-2, 13-0 West Coast), which is riding its best ranking in the poll ever and won its ninth game in a row.

"Outstanding, outstanding effort by our guys, probably the best I have ever seen in this building," 14-year head coach Mark Few said. "Our defense, our rebounding, and heck, even our offensive execution, I have no complaints there.  It was a total game and our guys deserve all the credit." 

The Zags held Santa Clara to 30 percent shooting (16 of 53) and outrebounded them 45-22.

``They outscored us, out-rebounded us and outplayed us,'' said Santa Clara coach Kerry Keating. ``They solidified their position as one of the best teams in the country.''

Brandon Clark led Santa Clara (19-9, 7-6) with 14 points. Leading scorer Kevin Foster was saddled with three fouls in the first half and finished with just four points, 14 below his average.

Gonzaga needs one more victory to claim at least a share of the WCC regular season title it lost last season. The Broncos are battling to finish in the top four to earn a bye into the quarterfinals of the WCC tournament next month.

Santa Clara averages 75 points per game, and had not scored less than 60 points in a game all season. They lost just 81-74 at home against Gonzaga.

But cold shooting did them in.

Santa Clara sank the first basket of the game, then watched Gonzaga score 15 straight points over the next 6 minutes to take control. Gonzaga led 22-5 after 11 minutes, with most of their baskets on layups. The Broncos made only two of their first 16 shots, firing mostly from long range.

"We did a great job on (Kevin) Foster.  We did a nice job on (Marc) Trasolini who has been playing good, also on (Evan) Roquemore who are three very good players," Few said. "The best thing was that it wasn't just for 15 minutes, it wasn't for 25 minutes, but it was for 40 minutes.  It was a total effort on both ends of the floor and on the glass, a very complete game."

Foster had 4 points, Trasolini 8 and Roquemore 2, all three of them 1,000-point scorers in their careers.

Olynyk's steal and stuff ignited a 12-2 Gonzaga run that put the Bulldogs ahead 34-9.

``We had a fast start right away and kept it going,'' Gonzaga guard Kevin Pangos said. ``To do that and focus and not relax for any part of the game is good.''

Gonzaga led 44-15 at halftime after shooting 60 percent (18 of 30) and getting 15 points from Harris. Santa Clara made just 6 of 28 shots, 21 percent, and was outrebounded 25-10 in the half. It was easily the lowest scoring half of the season for the Broncos.

``They played more aggressive early on the defensive end,'' Keating said of the Zags. ``Rebounding was not there for us.''

Santa Clara scored the first basket of the second half, and Gonzaga replied with a 14-2 run that pushed its lead to 58-19. The Bulldogs substituted heavily after that.

Gonzaga shot 56.9 percent for the game and made 7 of 17 3-pointers.

The Bulldogs host San Diego on Saturday with a chance to clinch at least a share of the WCC regular season title they lost of Saint Mary's last season.

``It's huge,'' Pangos said. ``We want that one bad.''

Santa Clara's poor offensive showing came despite the fact they are among only three teams in the nation that have four players who have scored at least 1,000 points in their careers: Kevin Foster, Evan Roquemore, Raymond Cowels and Marc Trasolini. Foster is the leading scorer in Santa Clara history.

Gonzaga has won 27 of the past 28 games against the Broncos.

After going 0-16 in WCC games last season, the Broncos are enjoying one of the biggest turnarounds in WCC history.

Gonzaga's only losses this season are to Illinois and at Butler. Their 26-2 start is the best since the 2003-04 team opened 28-2.

Gonzaga is 118-8 in the McCarthey Athletic Center since it opened in 2004.

NOTES and QUOTES

Notes:  Wednesday's 43-point win was the largest in the series with Santa Clara, which Gonzaga leads 49-30 ... Santa Clara entered the game averaging more than 75 points per game, fourth-best in the WCC ... the Broncos' 15 first-half points were the fewest allowed by the Bulldogs in a half this season, and the fewest since San Diego scored 12 in the second half in a 68-31 win at USD Feb. 6, 2011 ... the Bulldogs 56-percent shooting was their best against a Division I opponent this season. They also shot 56 percent against BYU. Their season-high of 64 percent came against NAIA foe Lewis-Clark State.

Gonzaga coach Mark Few

On the performance of his team against Santa Clara ... "Outstanding effort by our guys - probably the best I've ever seen in this building as far as our defense, our rebounding, and heck, even our offensive execution. I've got no complaints there. It was just a total game and our guys deserve all the credit."

On the Mike Hart's impact ... "He is amazing, guys, he is amazing. He is the ultimate effort guy and the ultimate scrapper and as tough as they come. You can see how valuable he is to our team. He inspires our team, he inspires our staff and I think the fans are starting to appreciate how valuable he is."

On facing San Diego on Saturday ... "San Diego played us real tough down there. They pushed us around and they were more physical than we were. We didn't run great offense, nor did we play very good defense. But they deserve a lot of credit for that. I'm sure Saturday will be a tough one, but at least we got two days to get ready for it instead of one."

Gonzaga sophomore Kevin Pangos

On the play of teammate Mike Hart ... "I hope everyone in the country can watch him play because he does things that - yeah, rebounds show up on the stat sheet, but the way he gets them, the times he gets them. What he brings is contagious and makes everyone want to play at that same level."

On the balance displayed by the team ... "Everyone that went in had a role, great teams can do that. When your name is called, the person on the court passes the baton to the next person and they go as hard, if not harder. That's what's great about this team. All we care about is the win and people are doing whatever they have to do in order to get that."

Gonzaga senior Mike Hart

On the Bulldogs' performance against Santa Clara ... "This might be one of the best performances I've been a part of in this gym."

On the standing ovation he received from the crowd ... "It's great for them to recognize what I'm trying to do, it means a lot. It's just kind of my role and I've got to fulfill that role for this team now. I think I can keep doing it to help this team succeed and get us to where we want to be."

On the potential to clinch at least a share of the WCC title Saturday ... "We didn't get it last year and we were hungry this year to get that back in our grasp. If we can do that - that is our first goal at the beginning of the year every year."

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