No. 7 Bulldogs Sink Pilots, 81-64
Jan. 28, 2006
SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) - Adam Morrison scored 30 points in the first 20 minutes, and then let his teammates do most of the work in the second half.
Morrison finished with 42 points, one short of his career high as No. 7 Gonzaga beat stubborn Portland 81-64 on Saturday for its 33rd consecutive home win.
The nation's leading scorer at 29 points per game, Morrison hit the 40-point mark for the fourth time this season and second game in a row. He has topped 30 nine times.
"I'm not here to score as many points as I can," Morrison, a junior, said. "I'm here to win.
"I'd be happy with 20 and the win," Morrison added.
Morrison went off in the first half, scoring 30 of Gonzaga's 41 points on 9-of-14 field goals, because forward J.P. Batista got into early foul trouble and had just two points.
With Batista recovering to score 14 in the second half, Morrison could back off.
"I'm not going to score 30 in every half," Morrison said.
Coach Mark Few said the Bulldogs try to share the ball more, but when Batista is off the floor, the focus switches to Morrison.
Morrison finished 14-of-26 from the floor, taking nearly half of Gonzaga's 55 shots. He also had 19 free throws, compared to 20 for the Portland team, making 12.
"He made a lot of tough shots," Few said. "He earned them all tonight."
Gonzaga (17-3, 7-0 WCC) has won eight straight games and 16 consecutive West Coast Conference games. The 33 consecutive home games tied the Zags with Illinois and Southern Illinois for the longest streak in the nation.
Portland (8-13, 2-5) was the last team to beat the Zags at home, on Feb. 19, 2003.
Portland, which beat Oregon and Oregon State this season, has lost five straight to Gonzaga and 19 of the past 20. But the Pilots, after falling behind 14-0 to open the game, managed to stay close until late in the second half.
"I was proud of our guys to withstand that and to scratch and claw back into the game," coach Michael Holton said. "This is one of the top environments in college basketball for a home team."
Trailing by eight at halftime, Portland got hot and went on a 12-4 run to open the second, with Marcus Lewis' turnaround jumper tying the score at 45.
Morrison, scoreless in the first six minutes of the second half, had a slam and a putback and Batista added three layups as Gonzaga rebuilt a 57-50 lead.
The lead held as the Zags went repeatedly to the free throw line. The nation's best free throw shooting team at 81 percent, the Zags made 23-of-36, compared to 13-of-20 for Portland.
"That was the difference in the game," Holton said.
Leading 68-61, Gonzaga went on a 6-0 run capped by Pierre Marie Altidor-Cespedes' 3-pointer to end Portland's hopes.
Pooh Jeter led Portland with 22 points, while Lewis had 16. The Pilots shot 48 percent from the floor, but made only 3-of-18 3-pointers.
Morrison scored 12 of Gonzaga's first 14 points in the opening 4 1/2 minutes, and Portland missed its first eight shots to fall behind 14-0. Ben Sullivan scored Portland's first points on a short jumper with 15:07 left in the first.
Gonzaga led 41-33 at halftime, with Morrison's 30 first half points nearly outscoring the entire Portland team. The 30 points were a career high for one half, and slightly better than the 26 Morrison had in the first half last game against San Francisco.
"We tried everything in our arsenal," Holton said. "We doubled him on his catch, we doubled him on his bounce. We tried to force him on the back door. I don't know that any of it had a great deal of effect."
Gonzaga has never lost in the 2-year-old McCarthey Athletic Center.
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