No. 8 Gonzaga Overpowers LMU
Feb 7, 2004
By NICHOLAS K. GERANIOS
SPOKANE, Wash. - When Loyola Marymount closed within six points early in the second half, guard Blake Stepp took over for No. 8 Gonzaga.
Stepp scored 11 points and had two assists during a 15-2 run that propelled Gonzaga to an 87-57 win over Loyola Marymount on Saturday. It was Gonzaga's 12th consecutive victory.
"That minute and a half to two minutes is why he's the player of the year in our league," Loyola coach Steve Aggers said after the Lions lost for the 18th time in the last 19 games against Gonzaga.
Stepp, quiet in the first half because of foul trouble, finished with 16 points and 10 assists, and went 4-of-5 from 3-point range.
Gonzaga (19-2, 9-0 West Coast Conference) led 37-31 when Stepp chewed his teammates out in a huddle, coach Mark Few said.
"He went after our guys," Few said. "Then he went bang, bang, bang and got it (lead) up to a comfortable number."
Stepp, a senior, was more modest, attributing the spurt to Gonzaga's streaky scoring.
"We're capable of making huge runs and we generally do," Stepp said. "It just flowed."
Stepp began with an alley-oop pass that Erroll Knight slammed home and then hit consecutive 3-pointers and a layup to complete a 10-0 run for a 47-31 lead.
After Dustin Brown scored for Loyola, Knight scored on another alley-oop pass from Stepp, and Stepp followed with another 3 for a 52-33 lead with 12:45 left.
"Erroll did a great job running, and that opened up some outside shots," Stepp said.
The acrobatic Knight went 5-of-6 and added six rebounds.
Cory Violette added 13 points, Ronny Turiaf had 12, Derek Raivio scored 11 and Knight had 10 for Gonzaga, which shot 61 percent while holding Loyola Marymount to 32 percent shooting. Gonzaga made 18-of-26 shots (69 percent) in the second half and went 8-of-12 from 3-point range in the game.
The Bulldogs also outrebounded the Lions 40-24 and blocked four shots.
Loyola Marymount (11-11, 2-7) got 16 points each from Charles Brown and Wes Wardrop. Sherman Gay, who came in averaging 16 points a game, was held to four and made just 2-of-13 field goal attempts.
"They got us down on their home floor and they've got the killer instinct," Aggers said. "They're just too good for us to play an up-tempo game with."
Stepp now has 275 3-pointers in his career, five short of tying the Gonzaga record set by Richie Frahm from 1996-2000.
In the first half, Gonzaga led 14-11 before Sean Mallon's basket sparked an 8-0 run for the Bulldogs.
With Stepp and Turiaf on the bench in foul trouble much of the first half, Violette picked up the slack with 11 points. Loyola Marymount shot 33 percent (7-of-21) in the half and committed 11 turnovers.
"That's as good a 40 minutes as we've played," Few said.
Gonzaga is 22-0 at home when ranked. Saint Joseph's and Stanford, the only remaining undefeated Division I teams in the country, handed the Bulldogs their two losses.
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