Bulldogs Take Fight Out Of Irish With 73-53 Home Victory
SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) - Gonzaga finished off the month of November with a 5-0 record, including a 73-53 victory over Notre Dame on Wednesday night.
Now the 19th-ranked Bulldogs are faced with a tough schedule in December with games against Illinois, Michigan State, Arizona, Butler and No. 11 Xavier.
''It's time for that (tough nonconference schedule) and let's see what happens,'' Gonzaga coach Mark Few said. ''We got to keep our poise and stay together. This team has great chemistry and now we have to have great chemistry under fire. We're going to bank on those returning guys to help us with that.''
Robert Sacre and David Stockton both scored 15 points to lead Gonzaga (5-0), while Kevin Pangos added 12 and Elias Harris had 11 points and 15 rebounds. Nine players scored for the Bulldogs, who shot 45.9 percent from the field and made six of 15 3-point attempts.
Jerian Grant scored 16 points for Notre Dame (5-3) and Pat Connaughton added 11. The Irish made 20 of 52 shots, were forced into 17 turnovers and were outrebounded 40-32.
Gonzaga led by as many as 19 points in the first half but Notre Dame closed within 13 at halftime and cut it to 43-34 early in the second half. Tom Knight and Grant scored four points apiece during the Irish's 8-2 run.
Stockton and Pangos hit 3-pointers during a 9-2 Gonzaga run that restored the lead to 52-36 with 11:12 left.
Gonzaga made 5 of 6 3-point attempts in the second half to put the game away.
In its second game after the loss of star forward Tim Abromaitis, Notre Dame was outmatched on the front line. The senior tore his ACL in his right knee at a practice on Nov. 25 and is out for the season. Gonzaga scored 38 points in the paint, compared to just 28 for Notre Dame.
''We pretty much go inside on anybody and everybody, that's just how we play,'' Few said. ''We got into them a little and turned them over a little bit. Being in this environment affected that some and that definitely got us going.''
Notre Dame struggled early, making 1 of its first 8 shots and trailed 12-3. Gonzaga extended its lead to 25-8 after a 13-5 run, with baskets from five players. Notre Dame fell behind 33-14 with 2:54 remaining but outscored Gonzaga 8-2 the rest of the half to make it 35-22.
''We just wanted to never have them be comfortable on offense and then we were very concerned about their 3s,'' Few said.
Gonzaga forced 13 first-half turnovers which resulted in 17 points. Notre Dame finished the half making 7 of 24 shots, including just 2 of 9 from behind the arc.
''This is a good test for our resiliency because we are going to be in some tough things here, trying to figure out who we are,'' Notre Dame coach Mike Brey said.
Abromaitis was a big part of the Notre Dame's 83-79 victory over Gonzaga last season. He scored 21 points, including four 3-pointers, and grabbed eight rebounds.
Last season was the inaugural matchup for these programs and this was the final game in the home-and-home series.
Gonzaga improved to 92-6 in the McCarthey Athletic Center.