Bulldogs Beat Pepperdine On ESPN's Rivalry Week
Feb. 5, 2003
MALIBU, CAlif. - Blake Stepp scored a game-high 27 points, including reaching a career milestone, and Gonzaga University held its sixth straight opponent to under 70 points in taking a 78-63 West Coast Conference victory over Pepperdine University Wednesday night in front of a national ESPN audience as part of Rivalry Week.
The Bulldogs (17-5, 8-0) won their ninth straight game in remaining the only undefeated team in the WCC. The Bulldogs swept the season series with Pepperdine (11-10, 3-5) after posting a 92-72 win in The Kennel on Jan. 12. That marked the last time an opponent scored 70 ore more points against the Bulldogs.
Gonzaga shot 56.7 percent from the field in the first half on 17-of-30, but the Waves matched the Bulldogs stride-for-stride with 17-for-31 for 54.8 percent. The first-half difference was from beyond the arc where Gonzaga went 10-for-17 while Pepperdine was just 3-for-7. Gonzaga finished the game 12-of-26, Pepperdine 4-for-15 from 3-point range.
The second half started slowly as 10 fouls were whistled in the first 4:12 and neither offense showed the pace and consistency of the first 20 minutes. Gonzaga shot just 34.5 percent in the second half, while Pepperdine struggled even more at 26.9 percent.
After a 6-foot jumper from the Bulldogs' Richard Fox opened the second half, the Waves scored the next five points to cut the Gonzaga lead to 53-47. After a 5:01 scoring drought by the Bulldogs, Stepp took matters into his own hands, hitting a trey from the left corner to give him 1,000 career points, then came back with another from long range from the right top of the circle for a 59-47 GU lead with 14:09 remaining. That spurred a 14-0 GU burst as Cory Violette got a pair of buckets down low, Gourde put in a hook from the right block and Stepp scored an easy layin on a fast break following a Pepperdine turnover and suddenly the Gonzaga lead was at 20 at 67-47.
The Waves' ended their scoring dry spell when Terrance Johnson, who led the Waves with 20 points, made a pair of free throws at the 8:02 mark, Pepperdine going 7:31 without a point. The Waves went 8:45 between field goals until Johnson connected with 6:58 to play.
Gonzaga used the long ball in the first half, connecting on 10-of-17 3-pointers in building as much as a 16-point lead at 36-20. Four of the Bulldogs first five baskets in the game were from beyond the arc - two from Kyle Bankhead and one each from Stepp and Winston Brooks. Bankhead started in place of Tony Skinner, who remained on the bench after re-injuring his left ankle last Saturday against Santa Clara University.
The Bulldogs used a 10-4 run to start the game and a 19-10 spurt mid-way through the half to build the 16-point advantage. A Gourde hook from the left block, a pair of Stepp free throws and a Fox put back off a Stepp missed trey culminated the 19-10 run for the 36-20 advantage with 6:16 to go.
But the Waves came back with back-to-back 3-pointers from Johnson to shave the Gonzaga lead to 43-32. A Fox layin off a Brooks assist and another Stepp bomb from the right corner pushed the lead back to 48-34, but the Waves scored 8 of the final 11 points in the half, Bankhead's 3-pointer from the left top of the circle the only Gonzaga points in the final 2:13 of the opening 20 minutes.
Violette scored 11 points and grabbed 14 rebounds for his seventh double-double of the season and the 18th of his career.
Gonzaga will remain in Los Angeles for a 7 p.m. contest Saturday at Loyola Marymount University.
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