No. 16 Zags Cruise Past LMU
Jan 11, 2004
LOS ANGELES (AP) - For the second time in as many West Coast Conference games, Gonzaga University held an opponent under 40 percent from the field in posting a 74-60 win over Loyola Marymount University at Gersten Pavilion on Saturday.
The Lions (8-5, 0-1) hit just 37.3 percent from the field (25-for-67) as the 16th-ranked Bulldogs (12-2, 2-0) swept the Los Angeles schools to open the WCC campaign. Gonzaga defeated LMU for the 23rd time in the last 26 meetings.
Gonzaga held Pepperdine University to 37.1 percent in Thursday's 87-70 victory, and Saturday's effort marked the ninth time in 14 outings the Bulldogs have held an opponent to under 40 percent from the field, including a season-low 29.3 percent by Eastern Washington University on New Year's Eve.
While Gonzaga was being stingy on defense, the Bulldog offense got into high gear following a 32-32 halftime tie as the visitors hit 70.8 percent of their shots in the second half (17-for-24).
Ronny Turiaf, held to 9 points at Pepperdine, exploded for 27 points on a 10-for-16 night from the field. The output was two shy of his career high, including earlier this year when he scored 29 against George Washington University. Blake Stepp, who scored 16 of his 19 points Thursday in the second half, came back with another strong second half against the Lions. The senior point guard had 7 first-half points on a perfect 3-for-3 from the field, and added 10 more in the second half to finish with 17. He went 7-for-9 from the field.
Gonzaga, upset in this venue last year as the Lions snapped a 16-game losing streak to the Bulldogs, opened as much as a 10-point first-half lead at 30-20 with 3:27 to go. But the Lions went on a 12-2 run of their own to end the half and forge a 32-32 halftime deadlock. LMU had one more field goal than the Bulldogs (13) and 14 more shots at the break. But 14 first-half Gonzaga turnovers led to 9 LMU points. The Lions had 6 turnovers in the opening 20 minutes. Gonzaga had just 5 second-half turnovers that resulted in 2 LMU points.
The second half was all Bulldogs, although the game didn't get totally away from LMU until an 8-2 Gonzaga spurt opened a 63-49 lead with 5:04 to go after the Lions had cut an 11-point second-half GU lead to 8 with 8:19 remaining. Gonzaga got the lead to as many as 15 at 68-53 with 3:33 to play.
"This was a tough and hard road win in conference," Gonzaga head coach Mark Few said. "It was exactly what we expected. I knew we were going to be in for a battle."
LMU was playing its first game in eight days after Thursday's scheduled game with the University of Portland was cancelled due to the closure of the Portland airport for two days. Portland and Pepperdine met on Saturday, with the Pilots game with LMU to be played on Monday.
"I would have rather have played on Thursday," LMU head coach Steve Aggers, a former EWU head coach, said. "Anytime you go eight days without playing I think it hurts your timing. But to say that had an impact on the game would be making an excuse. Gonzaga played extremely well in the second half. We had no answer for them once they put some separation between us. I thought we battled well and showed great energy in the first half. Gonzaga came out and answered in the second."
Gonzaga will make its WCC home debut Thursday against the University of San Francisco, followed by a Saturday visit from Saint Mary's College. Thursday's game will be televised locally in Spokane at 7 p.m. on PAX, while Saturday's game will be an 8 p.m. tipoff on ESPN2.
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