Gonzaga Withstands Late Portland Rally to Win 74-61

Jan. 8, 2011

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Associated Press

SPOKANE, Wash. - Gonzaga's offense built an 18-point halftime lead, but the Bulldogs needed to rely on their defense in the second half to hold off a late Portland comeback Saturday night.

Portland clawed its way back within three points with 7:13 left, but the Pilots scored just eight points in the final seven minutes and Gonzaga pulled out a 74-61 victory.

Steven Gray scored 18 points, leading a balanced scoring attack for Gonzaga (11-5) in the West Coast Conference opener for both teams.

Gonzaga held Portland's leading scorer, Jared Stohl, to five points on 2-of-8 shooting. Stohl came into the game having made 47 3-pointers but Gonzaga held him to 1-of-5 shooting from behind the arc.

"We played really good defense the whole game," Gonzaga coach Mark Few said. "I think (Jared) Stohl might have made one 3. We did a nice job on him."

Robert Sacre and Mathis Monninghoff scored nine points apiece for the Bulldogs. Gonzaga got a huge boost from its reserves, as they scored 32 points.

"Manny (Arop) came in and really helped us out," Gonzaga coach Mark Few said. "Monninghoff came in and hit some big shots. That's kind of how it's been going all year. We've always have somebody coming in and making some sort of play. We've been playing a lot of guys."

Nemanja Mitrovic led Portland (12-4) with 16 points. Eric Waterford had 12 and Luke Sikma added 10 for the Pilots. Portland shot 52.2 percent from the field, made 7 of 12 3-pointers but was doomed by 20 turnovers.

"Turn it over like we did, it's not surprising to come in here and for that to happen," Portland coach Eric Reveno said. "The turnovers are what really, really hurt us."

The Bulldogs hit 41.8 percent of their shots, including 9 of 25 3-pointers and made seven more free-throws than the Pilots attempted.

Portland opened the second half with a 13-1 run, cutting the Bulldogs' lead to 48-42. Five Pilots scored during the stretch.

"They came out in the second half and really made it difficult for us to finish setting a tone," Sacre said.

Gonzaga missed its first seven shots of the second half, and 9 of its first 11. David Stockton's lay-in with 12:46 remaining broke the Bulldogs' scoreless streak.

Five straight points by Waterford and a lay-in by Sikma pulled Portland within 56-53. It was the closest the Pilots had been since four minutes into the game.

"They battled us, battled us, even when we had them down," Few said. "They were able to kind of frustrate us a little bit on offense in the second half. Our defense hung with it and hung with it, and it ended up winning the game for us."

Gonzaga answered with a 9-0 run, including five straight points by Kelly Olynyk. The Bulldogs led 65-53 with 5:40 remaining.

The first half was controlled by Gonzaga. The Bulldogs led 16-7 after forcing six early turnovers and holding the Pilots scoreless for a 4-minute stretch.

Portland cut its deficit to 21-17 by making three 3-pointers. But Gonzaga responded with a 15-7 run, highlighted by three Monninghoff 3-pointers, to extend its lead to 36-24. The Bulldogs did not allow another point for the next four minutes, pushing their lead to 17 with 2:10 left. The 47-29 halftime score, was the Bulldogs' largest lead of the game.

Gonzaga shot 50 percent in the first half, including 7 of 15 3-pointers. The Bulldogs also made 10 of 11 free throws, while Portland did not attempt one from the charity stripe before halftime.

The Pilots made 5 of 8 shots from behind the arc and 48 percent overall. Portland was slowed by 11 first-half turnovers.

Both teams entered the game on hot streaks. The Bulldogs won their seventh straight and ended Portland's winning streak at five.

Gonzaga is going for its 11th straight West Coast Conference regular-season title. The Bulldogs, who play five of their first seven conference games at home, are 83-5 in the McCarthey Athletic Center since it opened in 2004.

The arena wasn't at its normal decibel level because Gonzaga's student section, known as the Kennel Club, was smaller than usual as students are on winter break.

Gonzaga has won 14 straight games against Portland and 27 of its last 28.

Portland lost four starters from a year ago, while Gonzaga returned four.



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