Bulldogs Snap 4-Game Losing Streak To Memphis, 66-58

Feb. 6, 2010

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MEMPHIS, Tenn.(AP) - Matt Bouldin scored 19 points and No. 17 Gonzaga pulled away at the end for a 66-58 victory over Memphis on Saturday.

Robert Sacre added 13 points and Steven Gray finished with 12, despite shooting 4 of 12 from the field for Gonzaga (19-4). Gray had seven rebounds.

Wesley Witherspoon led Memphis (16-7) with 26 points, hitting eight of his 11 shots, including 4 of 6 on 3-pointers. Elliot Williams finished with 11 points for the Tigers, who lost their second game in the last three.

Gonzaga head coach Mark Few said it was a big win for his team, which had lost four straight to the Tigers.

"Our guys came in here, and I thought we had a tough mindedness to us and a tough mentality about us," Few said. "It is hard to play well in this building because the crowd is such a huge part of the game. You can't hear your sets or hear your calls, but we were able to overcome that. I am really proud of the squad."

Gonzaga led 58-57 after Will Coleman, who had nine points and eight rebounds, scored inside with 1:35 left. But Sacre scored inside and Bouldin hit two free throws to give the Bulldogs enough breathing room for their 11th win in the last 12.

The Bulldogs also had to do it with a short turnaround following Thursday's important West Coast Conference win at home against Portland. Few said that made the effort even more satisfying.

"We have actually done that a couple of times this year, and it has been crazy whether it was in Maui or the tough game against Oklahoma in Spokane and then having to turn right around with the trip to the United Center versus Illinois," Few said. "We knew it was going to be really hard. Memphis is a really good basketball team, and they have great athleticism. They have some toughness to them. Their shooters didn't make as many shots as they did the last game, and I think that was partly due to our defense."

Neither team shot well. Gonzaga converted 41.1 percent (23 of 56), while Memphis managed to shoot 39.6 percent (19 of 48). Gonzaga held a 36-31 advantage on the boards, including 13 on the offensive glass.

Gonzaga went on a 9-0 run to take a 28-23 halftime lead. Bouldin was 3 of 6 in the half for eight points, but the Bulldogs shot 37 percent (10 of 27), while Memphis was 8 of 22 (36.4 percent). The Tigers were hampered by nine turnovers to go with their poor shooting.

Witherspoon led Memphis with 11 points on 4-of-5 shooting, missing only one of his three 3-point attempts.

Gonzaga extended its lead to nine as Sacre began to score inside.

Witherspoon was carrying the Tigers, and Memphis was hurting its own cause by misfiring from the free throw line, ending the game 14 of 26.

Memphis head coach Josh Pastner thought his team played hard, but a 14-for-26 afternoon at the free throw line really hampered the Tigers chances for victory.

"The guys played hard. There's no question about that. We had our chances to win the game. To win a game like this, you have to make free throws. That's the bottom line. If we make our free throws like we did on Wednesday or like we did against Marshall, then we win the game. We didn't, and that's why they got the win," Pastner said. "We had our chances. All you can ask for is a chance to win the game, and we had our chances."

Memphis' 9-0 run allowed it to take a 53-51 lead with 4:48 left on a layup by Kemp.

When asked if he was concerned when Memphis made their run, Few said Memphis always makes him nervous.

"I am always concerned playing Memphis because they are so dangerous. They can hit threes in bunches and just create turnovers. I am very happy with our guys on the defensive end because we really stayed in our gaps and made them take difficult shots," Few said. "Taking care of the ball against that athleticism and the way they climb up into us with the crowd going, I am very happy to see the way we kept our poise because it was very impressive."

From there, the teams exchanged leads until Gonzaga extended a 58-57 lead by closing the game on an 8-1 run, all 8 Bulldog points coming at teh free throw line. Bouldin converted four and Demetri Goodson and Gray made two each.

Pastner gave credit to the Bulldogs.

"You have to give full credit to Gonzaga. They're well-coached, and they made big plays," he said. "How many times did they make big shots at the shot-clock buzzer. They played well."

The shot clock buzzer beaters Pastner referred to both came from Bouldin. The first came late in the first half after Gray had a shot blocked and Bouldin hit a trey from the top of the circle for a 19-17 Bulldog lead as the shot clock light came on. The other came midway through the second half when he sank a jumper off an inbound play with the shot clock ticking down to give Gonzaga a 47-38 lead.

Gonzaga faces another pivotal WCC game Thursday when Saint Mary's visits the McCarthey Athletic Center. The Bulldogs and Gaels were both 7-1 prior to SMC's Saturday night game against San Francisco.

 

 

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