Morrison's Career-High Propels Zags Past LMU
Feb. 18, 2006
LOS ANGELES (AP) - Adam Morrison had another unstoppable second half and Gonzaga has yet another conference title to its credit because of it.
The nation's leading scorer had a career-high 44 points - 37 in the second half - to give the fifth-ranked Bulldogs a 79-70 victory Saturday over Loyola Marymount and a share of their sixth straight regular-season West Coast Conference title.
Morrison's virtual one-man rally came a week after he scored 12 points in the final 3 minutes to almost single-handedly lift the Bulldogs past Stanford 80-76. He outscored the entire Stanford team in that stretch, and Saturday he outscored Loyola Marymount 37-33 in the second half.
After missing all three of his 3-point attempts in the first half, Morrison was 8-for-10 in the second, firing 3s from all over the floor, usually well behind the arc.
"I played horrible in the first half," said Morrison, whose eight 3-pointers were also a career high. "I hit a three to start the second half and then I started testing the waters. When someone on our team is on fire we get them the ball."
Asked what adjustments he made with his team trailing at halftime, Gonzaga coach Mark Few laughed and said "I told Adam to shoot the ball."
The win was the 13th straight for Gonzaga and its 20th consecutive in conference.
Morrison, leading Duke's J.J. Redick in a tight race for the scoring title, had twice scored 43 this season, against Washington on Dec. 4 and against Michigan St. on Nov. 22. It was the fifth time this season he has scored more than 40, and his 12th time with more than 30.
He finished 14-for-20 from the field on Saturday and 8-for-12 from the free-throw line.
"He might be the best I've ever seen," said Loyola Marymount coach Rodney Tention. "He's the best player in the conference and maybe in the country."
Brandon Worthy led Loyola Marymount (11-14, 8-3) with 22 points. The Lions are 1-21 in their last 22 meetings with Gonzaga.
With the Bulldogs down by four at halftime, Morrison immediately took over to start the second half, scoring 11 points including three 3-pointers in the first five minutes to give Gonzaga a 46-43 lead.
Worthy later made a layup to give Loyola Marymount a 60-59 lead, and hit his face on the floor after being fouled. He briefly had to leave the game.
Morrison made two quick 3-pointers soon after to give Gonzaga a 65-61 lead and the Bulldogs would never trail again. They closed the game with a 14-6 run.
Gonzaga shot 54 percent (27-for-50) from the field, to Loyola Marymount's 38.1 percent (24-for-63).
Derek Raivio added eight points and five assists for Gonzaga.
J.P. Batista led Gonzaga with seven rebounds but struggled against the Loyola Marymount front line most of the afternoon. He averages 10 rebounds per game, and his six points were well short of his 20-point average.
Gonzaga turned up the defensive pressure and rebounding after halftime, outrebounding Loyola Marymount 23-14 in the second half.
"We did a good job frustrating Batista down low," Tention said. "But with Morrison on fire, there just wasn't a chance for us to get many boards."
As he struggled in the first half, the whiskered Morrison heard the now-common chant of "shave your mustache" from the biggest Loyola Marymount home crowd in 18 years, and smiled at much of the taunting.
"I'm used to the trash-talking comments and the jawing," Morrison said. "It makes me chuckle. I didn't hear anything original tonight."
Loyola Marymount is in second place in the WCC, but the Bulldogs have a three-game lead with three to play. And they've beaten the Lions twice.
Gonzaga suffered from poor 3-point shooting - going just 2-for-10 - and flat defense in the first half.
Loyola Marymount scored eight straight points to start a 21-9 run and take a double-digit lead, 31-21, with 4 minutes to play in the half. Worthy scored seven during the stretch, and had 14 first-half points.
Gonzaga answered with a 10-2 run that featured a 3-pointer from Raivio and a three-point play from Sean Mallon to close to 33-31 with 1:40 to go.
Morrison, tightly guarded by Dustin Brown, didn't get a shot off before the shot clock expired with two seconds left at the end of the half, and Worthy made one of two free throws with one second to play to give Gonzaga a 37-33 halftime lead.
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