No. 7 Gonzaga Fends Off Late USF Push
Jan. 24, 2006
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - Adam Morrison seems to be thriving more each day on the attention he generates everywhere Gonzaga goes.
After his latest sensational offensive showing, the star forward with the shaggy hair and funky mustache waved and thanked a fan who shouted congratulations his way. He signed autographs for the kids who followed him to the locker room. He later asked for directions back to the locker room after generously handling his post-game media duties.
That was all after Morrison scored 41 points and the seventh-ranked Bulldogs beat San Francisco 84-75 on Monday night, their seventh straight victory.
It's no wonder Morrison is such a hit, even with those who want nothing more than to dislike him.
"It was one of those deals where I felt like I was in high school again," Morrison said. "I was feeling it."
The Zags (16-3, 6-0) won their 15th consecutive West Coast Conference game and seem capable of another unbeaten season, like their 14-0 league campaign in 2004, after sweeping their three Bay Area rivals on the road.
Armondo Surratt had a career-high 30 points for San Francisco (7-11, 3-2) and led a late rally that fell short.
Morrison, the nation's leading scorer at 27.6 points per game coming in, recorded his third 40-point game of the season and bettered 30 points for the fourth in five games. He shot 14-for-23 from the field - 5-of-7 on 3s - made all eight of his free throws and had nine rebounds, though he went 15 1/2 minutes without a basket spanning halftime.
"The good thing is I cooled off toward the end of the half and at the start of the second half I didn't score a bunch," Morrison said. "The other guys on our team started showing up, and that's what they can do. We've got good players on this team besides myself. I feel like sometimes they get overshadowed by my scoring."
Morrison was coming off his second-lowest scoring effort of the season with 16 points in a 64-63 win over San Diego on Saturday. He should have had two more points Monday but was called for a questionable offensive goaltending on a missed 3 by Derek Raivio early in the second half.
J.P. Batista had 20 points and 13 rebounds for the Bulldogs, who beat Santa Clara and Saint Mary's, besides San Francisco, the only other WCC team to beat them last season.
The Zags made 15 of their first 20 shots to build a comfortable lead, but couldn't hold it. Surratt's three-point play with 15:39 remaining got the Dons within 49-48, then he gave them their first lead with a basket at 13:21 to make it 52-51.
USF's Danny Cavic hit a 3 with 2:18 to go and Jerome Gumbs followed with a basket to pull the Dons within 73-70. Morrison missed a 3, then Gonzaga got the ball back. Raivio called for a timeout because he couldn't get the ball in, but Gumbs was whistled for fouling Morrison, who made both free throws. Raivio stole the ball from Cavic on the other end to seal it.
Gumbs and Cavic each scored 11 points and Alan Wiggins added 10 rebounds for the Dons, who had won two straight and three of four. The Dons came out in a zone but had no answer for the Zags' near-perfect offense early.
Morrison hit a 3 from the baseline while falling out of bounds midway through the first half to give him 19 points, then some USF fans told Morrison "slow it down!" He made a driving one-handed shot in the lane moments later and a 28-foot 3-pointer soon after that.
"I can't even explain him," Surratt said. "He's scary."
Morrison and Gonzaga are drawing huge crowds everywhere, and standing-room only Memorial Gym was one of the most packed houses yet. Fans lined the railings, dangling their feet over the second-floor balconies surrounding the entire gym and packed the stairwells to see the game in the 5,300-seat arena. At halftime, an announcement was made that anyone without tickets had to leave the gym, acknowledging that hundreds had sneaked in. The announcement was made again, but fans stayed put.
USF beat the Zags at home 73-70 last Jan. 20 to help them reach the NIT in coach Jessie Evans' first season and Gonzaga won 77-75 in Spokane.
"I think they were fired up and ready to go because we got beat here last year," Zags coach Mark Few said. "Everywhere we go, it is just a zoo. We have not played in front of a non-sellout crowd for three years."
Morrison was two points shy of matching his biggest scoring half of the season Monday.
Gonzaga was held without a field goal in the final 6:50 of the first half - the Zags did get a goaltending call - and USF used a 14-4 spurt to pull within 45-40 at halftime.
Morrison (1,479), widely expected to turn pro after his junior season, passed Gary Lechman (1,452) to move into 11th place on Gonzaga's career scoring list. Morrison passed John Stockton this month.
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