No. 6 Gonzaga Grounds Pilots

Feb 18, 2004

Box Score

Associated Press Writer

SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) - On a night they honored their point guard of the past, the No. 6 Gonzaga Bulldogs had to win without their point guard of the present.

Shortly after Gonzaga retired the number of alumnus John Stockton at halftime, Blake Stepp was cut above his right eye and left the game with 11 minutes remaining and Portland on a roll.

But Ronny Turiaf and freshman Derek Raivio rose to the challenge and Gonzaga hung on for a 79-69 win Wednesday.

"Blake is like the engine of a car," said Turiaf, who scored 19 points and grabbed nine rebounds. "I did my best to step up when he wasn't there."

Raivio, a freshman, hit a pair of 3-pointers in the closing minutes as Gonzaga set a team record with its 15th consecutive win. Freshman Sean Mallon added a career-high 16 points, making all six of his field goals and all four of his free throws.

"Ronny Turiaf brought a ton of leadership," coach Mark Few said. "We miss a lot when Blake goes out."

Stepp required several stitches to close the cut, but should be ready to play Saturday in Tulsa, trainer Steve DeLong said.

Gonzaga (22-2, 12-0 West Coast Conference) has already clinched a fifth consecutive WCC title, and is shooting for its first undefeated league season. It is 23-0 at home when ranked.

Dustin Geddes led Portland (10-15, 4-8) with 16 points. The Pilots lost their fourth in a row. The Bulldogs held Pooh Jeter, who averages 17 points per game, to 12.

Stepp and Kyle Bankhead opened with consecutive 3-pointers, and Cory Violette and Turiaf followed with consecutive dunks as Gonzaga scored the first 12 points of the game. Portland missed its first eight shots before Geddes hit a short jumper with 14:06 left.



"A huge part of our game plan was for that not to happen," Portland coach Michael Holton said of his team's 12-0 deficit. "It took us a long time just to settle into this game."

Portland was the last team to beat Gonzaga on its home floor, exactly one year ago.

"We have to play great and they have to play awful for us to beat them in this building," Holton said.

The Pilots were outrebounded 32-23. Gonzaga dominated the free throws, hitting 16-of-22 while Portland made all three of its chances.

Geddes scored eight straight Portland points during an 11-2 run that saw the Pilots close to 34-27. But a 10-0 Gonzaga run rebuilt the lead to 44-29 at halftime.

Turiaf scored eight of Gonzaga's first 12 points of the second half as the Bulldogs took a 56-36 lead.

Casey Frandsen had eight points during a 15-4 spurt as Portland closed to 62-51 with 10:30 left.

Stepp, who had 13 points, was injured near the end of that Portland run and did not return. Raivio replaced him and hit a pair of 3-pointers as the Bulldogs grew the lead to 75-57. A flurry of late baskets by Portland produced the final score.

Stepp's four assists gave him 202 this season, moving him past Stockton's 201 for second place on the Gonzaga season record list. Matt Santangelo leads with 225 in 2000.

Gonzaga's last loss was Dec. 20 at undefeated Stanford. The only other loss this season is to undefeated Saint Joseph's.

Stockton's No. 12 was retired at halftime, nearly 20 years after his last game as a Bulldog on March 12, 1984. He left for the NBA as the Gonzaga career leader in steals and assists and was West Coast Athletic Conference player of the year in 1984.

Santangelo and Stepp have since eclipsed his career assist record.

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