No. 7 Gonzaga Continues WCC Dominance

Feb 13, 2004

Box Score

AP Sports Writer

SAN FRANCISCO - Somehow, San Francisco kept losing track of Cory Violette. At least that's what Gonzaga's 6-foot-8, 265-pound center figures led to all his uncontested baskets.

Violette had 24 points and 10 rebounds and No. 7 Gonzaga won its 13th straight game, 71-48 over San Francisco on Thursday night. It was his second-best scoring output of the season.

"I had a lot of easy shots where I thought they got lost in the zone," Violette said.

Perhaps the Dons paid too much attention to Gonzaga's leading scorer Ronny Turiaf, held to 10 points - nearly six below his average. Turiaf's quiet night didn't matter.

"Turiaf seemed disinterested," San Francisco coach Phil Matthews said. "The problem is, when Turiaf is disinterested, Violette is interested."

And so are the rest of the Bulldogs.

Blake Stepp and Kyle Bankhead each added 11 points as Gonzaga improved to 7-0 in road games and won its 13th in a row against the Dons, including a seventh consecutive game at Memorial Gym.

Tyrone Riley led San Francisco with 15 points and six rebounds, an improvement for the Dons from their 92-50 loss to Gonzaga in Spokane last month in which no San Francisco player scored in double digits.

The Bulldogs (20-2, 10-0 WCC) can clinch their eighth West Coast Conference regular-season title with a victory Saturday at Saint Mary's. They have reached 20 wins for the 11th time since 1992 and the seventh straight year, and this is the fastest the team has done it in school history.

"That's a pretty good accomplishment considering some of the successful teams we've had in the past," Violette said. "The WCC is an important thing for us to win, just for pride. But a lot of us feel we're playing for something bigger, like a seed in the NCAA tournament."



If Gonzaga wins Saturday, it will match the school record for consecutive victories. The Bulldogs won 14 straight from Jan. 19-March 14, 2002, and from Jan. 4-Feb. 22, 2001.

Students waited to get in for more than two hours before tipoff, with the backup reaching the main street outside the arena. A near-capacity crowd watched the Dons (14-12, 4-6) lose at home for only the second time in 10 games this season.

Violette scored 10 points, including two three-point plays, in the first 6:54 as the Bulldogs quickly built a commanding lead. That allowed coach Mark Few to liberally use his bench the rest of the way.

Gonzaga's two losses this season came against No. 2 Stanford and third-ranked Saint Joseph's - the only remaining unbeaten Division I teams.

"I thought Cory was just a beast on the boards," Few said. "Things came a little easy and we became complacent, which is only natural."

San Francisco struggled early against the Bulldogs' tight zone defense, which rarely allowed the Dons to get the ball inside, and most shots they did get were contested.

Gonzaga made its first nine field goals to take a 22-6 lead it never relinquished. Turiaf missed a layup at 12:32 to end the perfect run, but Sean Mallon was right there for a putback.

The Bulldogs led 39-23 at halftime, but made only two baskets in the final 8:34 of the half. After starting 9-for-9, they finished the half 5-of-15.

The Dons, who shot 28.6 percent, haven't beaten a top 10 team since a 66-63 win over seventh-ranked Notre Dame in January 1981.

Stepp was 31-for-33 at the foul line in his previous eight games, but didn't shoot any free throws Thursday.

Bankhead had eight assists and Stepp added five to move into second place on the school's single-season list with 203, passing John Stockton (201). Stepp needs 23 more assists to surpass Matt Santangelo (225).

"I'm sure it'll mean more to me when I'm finished with my career," said Stepp, who works out with Stockton. "But to have my name above his on any list means a lot to me."

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