No. 4 Gonzaga Shuts Down The Kennel, Santa Clara
Feb 28, 2004
By NICHOLAS K. GERANIOS
SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) - On a night when everybody wanted to talk about the past, Blake Stepp made sure No. 4 Gonzaga stayed focused on future goals.
Stepp had 14 points and eight assists to help Gonzaga beat Santa Clara 80-64 Saturday night in the final college basketball game in The Kennel.
There was a halftime parade of players from the past, including John Stockton, film clips from 39 years of games in the building and ceremonies for five departing seniors. But Stepp remained concentrated on the upcoming postseason.
"We know we are not done yet," Stepp said. "We have the conference tournament and hopefully multiple games in the NCAAs yet."
It was the 18th win in a row for Gonzaga (25-2, 14-0 West Coast Conference), extending a school record, and it also completed the team's first undefeated run through the WCC.
"It couldn't get any better than that," coach Mark Few said.
"No other (Gonzaga) team before us has been able to do it. You have to go into seven hostile gyms, we were ranked the entire time. It shows the character of these guys."
The Bulldogs will be the top seed in next week's WCC tournament.
Santa Clara (14-15, 6-8) lost for the sixth consecutive time to Gonzaga and has won just one of its past six games. Kyle Bailey and Doron Perkins led the Broncos with 19 points each.
Consecutive dunks by Adam Morrison and Violette extended the lead to 30-11.
"The way they shot early in the game, I though they'd beat us by 50 points," Santa Clara coach Dick Davey said. "They made a couple of stretch runs and we couldn't keep up."
Scott Dougherty's 3-pointer capped a 9-0 run that brought Santa Clara to 32-23, the closest the Broncos would get.
Stepp hit a 3-pointer and a pair of free throws for a 37-26 halftime lead.
Bankhead's 3-pointer sparked a 13-0 Gonzaga run midway through the second half for a 59-35 lead. Santa Clara made just three field goals in the first nine minutes of the second half.
Davey said he wanted his team to slow the game down, "but we got carried away."
Ronny Turiaf added 13 points for Gonzaga, Bankhead had 12, and Violette and Morrison scored 10 each.
The Bulldogs' winning streak is the third-longest in the nation, trailing only No. 1 Stanford and No. 2 Saint Joseph's, both undefeated and the only teams to beat Gonzaga this season. The Bulldogs last lost Dec. 20 to Stanford.
Stepp, Violette and Bankhead have won 82 percent of their games in their four-year careers, including a 46-2 record in The Kennel. Fox and Skinner played two years for the Zags.
"They are the greatest class, I think, that ever came through here," Few said. "It's not debatable."
It was the final game in The Kennel, the 4,000-seat bandbox that has been Gonzaga's home court since 1965. The Bulldogs posted a 397-104 record in the gym. Next season they move next door to a new 6,000-seat arena, the $23 million McCarthey Athletic Center.
The Bulldogs went 11-0 in The Kennel this season, their seventh undefeated season at home, and third in the past four years.
About 70 players from the past were introduced at halftime, including Stockton, a 1984 graduate who starred for the NBA's Utah Jazz.
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