Bulldogs Shatter Oklahoma After Sooners Shatter Backboard
Dec. 31, 2009
SPOKANE, Wash. - There wasn't a lot of drama in the game itself - an 83-69 Gonzaga University win over the University of Oklahoma New Year's Eve in the Spokane Arena.
But with 15:54 remaining in the second half the Sooners Tiny Gallon, all 6-9, 269-pounds of him, shattered a backboard in front of the Oklahoma bench that led to a 52-minute delay. Gonzaga's Robert Sacre broke up an alley-oop pass intended for Gallon, and his momentum carried him above the rim, he grabbed the rim on his way down and the backboard shattered on top of him.
It was the second time a backboard has been shattered at the Spokane Arena involving a Gonzaga game. Casey Calvary, in attendance this night, shattered a backboard at the opposite end of the court Jan. 2, 2001, 11 minutes into the second half in a game the Bulldogs would eventually lose to the University of New Mexico 81-80 in overtime. That led to a 42-minute delay that night.
Amidst all of the excitement of the backboard, the Bulldogs (10-3) put on quite a clinic against the Sooners (8-5) who lost their second straight game.
Steven Gray scored 18 points to lead five Bulldogs in double figures as the Bulldogs burned the nets long before Gallon broke the backboard. The Zags shot 66.7 percent from the field in the first half (18-for-27) and 69.2 percent from 3-point land (9-for-13) in building a 52-34 halftime advantage.
Gonzaga cooled off in the second half, hitting 36.7 percent from the field and making just 2-of-13 from 3-point range for 15.4 percent. The Bulldogs shot 50.9 percent from the field and 42.3 percent from beyond the arc. And the Zags also connected on 14-of-17 attempts from the free throw line for 82.4 percent after going just 25-for-50 from the stripe in the previous two games. Gonzaga was shooting just 66.4 percent entering the game.
Gray went 7-forp-15 from the field and 3-for-6 from 3-point range as his 18 points were the most since a career-high 27 against the University of Colorado in the opening round of the Maui Invitational in late November.
The Bulldogs had a 10-point lead in doubling Oklahoma 20-10 near the midway point of the first half. The Sooners would get the lead to single digits just one more time at 37-30 but the Bulldogs got two 3-pointers from Kong in the last 2:06 of the half, the last at the halftime buzzer to give Gonzaga the 18-point lead.
Gonzaga head coach Mark Few credited his squad with a good all-around effort.
"It was a great win. That's a really, really talented team. They are young but they are extremely talented and will win a lot of games this year," Few said. "To weather their storm offensively with a variety of shots they can make and make in a hurry, I was proud of our guys. I thought we had a lot of poise, moved the ball well on offense, were efficient, rebounded the ball pretty darn well and had a lot of assists."
Few said ball movement was the key to success.
"When we're moving it like that we are at our best. When we come down and wait for the post or wait for a ball screen we aren't as good. We shot the ball well from three, from the line and, obviously, that cures a lot of ills," he said.
He was concerned about losing the momentum his team had with the delay, but said his team responded well.
"It's hard. It's not something you face every day," Few said of having the delay and coming out and still being sharp. "I felt we were playing well right then. You wanted to keep the game going and not lose your edge so I was concerned about that. But I liked how we came out after that and kind of just stuck with the plan."
The Bulldogs will play the University of Illinois in 36 hours in the United Center in Chicago as a tough stretch of games continues for the Bulldogs. They open the West Coast Conference season on the road against the three teams expected to have the best chance to keep them from a 10th straight WCC regular-season crown - Jan. 9 at the University of Portland, Jan. 14 at Saint Mary's College and Jan. 16 at the University of San Diego.
"We're in a lot better frame of mind and feeling good about ourselves. We won't have a ton of practice for Illinois. We play at 10 in the morning (Saturday) our time so it's kind of an NBA schedule. We have to show up and play hard and the X's and O's will take care of themselves," Few said. "This is a hard stretch for us. To play a talented team like this and then play Illinois in 36 hours, but we have to take whatever comes down the pike at us. We can't change it so we have to line up and play."
Talented sophomore Willie Warren, who is expected to enter the NBA Draft next spring, led the Sooners with 19 points, and Andrew Fitzgerald had 13. Gallon went 4-for-4 from the field for 8 points, slightly below his 11.8 ppg entering the fray.
Oklahoma head coach Jeff Capel did not start forward Tommy Mason-Griffin or Gallon because the duo was late returning from Christmas break and missed the Sooners first practice. But Mason-Griffin played 32 minutes and Gallon 13 minutes in reserve roles.
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