No. 16 Zags Overpower Montana
Jan 4, 2004
By NICHOLAS K. GERANIOS
SPOKANE, Wash. - Early in the second half, Cory Violette launched a 3-pointer that clanged off the rim. But one of his Gonzaga teammates got the rebound and a sharp pass from Blake Stepp set Violette up for a huge dunk.
It's been that kind of week for Violette, a senior forward who finished with 21 points in the 16th-ranked Bulldogs' 88-67 victory over Montana on Sunday night.
He scored a career-high 31 points last Sunday against Washington State, 11 against Eastern Washington on Wednesday, and then buried Montana by scoring 15 points in the first half.
He had two dunks as Gonzaga scored the first 13 points of the second half. The second slam began with the missed 3-pointer and gave Gonzaga a 50-30 lead.
"Kyle (Bankhead) rebounded and kicked it out to Blake," Violette said. "I cut to the rim. That's when Blake, who has the best pair of eyes in the country for a point guard, passed to me."
Violette scored nine points on free throws as Montana tried an aggressive defense that sent Gonzaga repeatedly to the line. The Bulldogs were 33-of-43 from the free throw line.
"They were fouling us real hard, trying to get us frustrated," Violette said.
Gonzaga (10-2) won for the third time in seven days, while Montana (3-9) lost its eighth consecutive game.
"They are incredibly strong inside," said Montana coach Pat Kennedy, whose team was outrebounded 44-23, as Gonzaga grabbed 16 offensive rebounds.
He said the Grizzlies were forced to take chances on defense that resulted in leading scorer Kamarr Davis and starting center John Seyfert fouling out.
"If you let them manhandle you, they could have won by 40 or 50," Kennedy said. "There are not 10 better teams in the country right now."
Gonzaga coach Mark Few was pleased with the way his team closed its nonconference schedule, which included wins over Georgia, Missouri, Maryland, Washington and Washington State.
"Without a doubt that's as good a preseason as we have ever had," Few said.
The Bulldogs played three home games in the past seven days, beating local rivals Washington State, Eastern Washington and Montana.
"Those are hard games, emotional games," Few said.
Last year, Gonzaga struggled against all three of those teams before pulling out late victories. This time they pounded their rivals.
Against Montana, Gonzaga poured it on early and never gave the Grizzlies a chance to catch up.
The Zags went on an 11-2 run, with eight points on free throws, to take a 24-11 lead. Montana's Davis responded by scoring seven of his team-high 13 points as Montana closed to 30-21.
But dunks by Turiaf and Violette highlighted a 10-2 run that gave the Bulldogs a 41-25 lead. Gonzaga led 43-30 at halftime.
The two dunks by Violette highlighted a 13-0 run to start the second half. Montana was scoreless over the first 6:33 of the half, until Davis' short jumper narrowed Gonzaga's lead to 56-32. Gonzaga then scored the next five points to cap an 18-2 run.
Montana was 12-of-18 from the free throw line.
Gonzaga was playing for the first time since starting forward Tony Skinner and reserve center Richard Fox were lost indefinitely to injuries in a win over Eastern Washington. Knight started for Skinner, breaking up a starting lineup that had been stable since the second game of the season.
Gonzaga has won seven straight against Montana since the Grizzlies' last win in 1996.
Gonzaga is 18-0 at home when ranked.
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