Bulldogs Bully Saint Mary's 105-65
March 3, 2001
SAN DIEGO, Calif. - Gonzaga University wasted little time in sending a message to the rest of the West Coast Conference that the Bulldogs came ready to defend their two-time WCC Tournament championship with a record-setting 105-65 win over Saint Mary's College in Saturday's opening round at the Jenny Craig Pavilion.
The victory margin of 40 points set a WCC Tournament record, erasing the previous mark of 38 set by the Gaels in an 86-48 win over the University of Portland in 1989. The Bulldogs also set a school tournament mark with their first 100-point WCC Tournament game, the previous high for the Bulldogs in a 101-98 setback to Loyola Marymount University in 1989. The game was also the first 100-point effort in the infant history of the new Jenny Craig Pavilion that opened this season on the University of San Diego campus.
The Bulldogs (22-6) won for the 16th time in their last 17 outings, and now face host University of San Diego in Sunday's second semifinal that begins 30 minutes following the conclusion of the first semifinal between Pepperdine University and Santa Clara Univesity that tips off at 5:30 p.m. San Diego, the fourth seed, advanced with a 62-42 win over fifth-seeded University of San Francisco. No. 2 Pepperdine downed No. 7 University of Portland 81-71, and No. 3 Santa Clara University stopped No. 6 Loyola Marymount 77-60 in the other first-round games.
Saturday's game was over by the 16:54 mark of the first half as the Bulldogs raced to a 16-1 lead. Junior guard Dan Dickau, who provided the game-winning 3-point shot against USD last Saturday on this court, got the Bulldogs off and running with a trey from the let top of the arc just 30 seconds into the game. WCC Freshman of the Year Blake Stepp followed with a 3-ball from the left corner at 18:32 and Zach Gourde got a dunk off a Dickau lob at 18:04 and it was 8-0. Back-to-back 3's by Stepp from deep at the left top of the circle and Dickau from the right top of the key off an inbounds play pushed the lead to 16-1 with 16:52 remaining in the first half.
The lead grew to 20 with 14:52 remaining on a Stepp layup, and by the time the first half ended all 12 Bulldogs had played as Gonzaga took a 58-26 lead to halftime. The 58 points marked Gonzaga's seventh 50-point half of the season, including a 62-point second-half explosion at Saint Mary's on the opening weekend of WCC play in a 102-48 victory. Gonzaga also won the re-match in The Kennel 90-64. The biggest Bulldog lead in this one was 51 points when a pair of Cory Violette free throws pushed the lead with 93-42 with 9:39 remaining.
No Bulldog starter played more than 23 minutes, that by Casey Calvary, and the Bulldog starters had pretty much been relegated to cheerleading from the bench with 10:00 to go in the game. Head coach Mark Few was pleased to spread out the minutes on his bench.
"Our depth is much better this year. In an ideal situation you hope you can save minutes in a tournament situation like this. Our minutes are down (among the starters) anyhow this season because of our depth. We play more guys and share the wealth," Few said. Calvary scored 11 points in the contest to give him 105 career WCC Tournament points and move him into a tie for 15th on the all-time list with LMU's Jeff Fryer.
Few was delighted with the intensity exhibited by his club in a game in which lethargy sometimes is the rule rather than the exception when No. 8 meets No. 1 in the tournament first round.
"I liked our approach. We wanted to make sure we came out and attacked at both ends. We're at our best when we are the hunter and the aggressor," Few said. "The big stats for us are field goal percentage, defensive field goal percentage and rebounds, and we won all three handily today."
The Bulldogs shot 62.5 percent in the first half on 20-of-32, and finished the game shooting 59.4 percent from the field on 38-of-64. The Gaels, meanwhile, shot 33.8 percent from the field on 23-of-68. Gonzaga also won the battle of the boards 47-36, redshirt freshman reserve Jay Sherrell leading the way with a career-high 7.
Stepp led both teams in scoring with 20 points, his second 20-point night of the season and one shy of his career-high 21 at the University of Arizona. Dickau finished with 16 points, Alex Hernandez 14 off the bench and Calvary and Gourde with 11 each as five Bulldogs hit double digits.
The Gaels were paced by the 18 points of Ethnie Stubbs who came off the bench to go 6-of-20 from the field. Jovan Harris was the lone SMC starter and only other Gael in double figures with 10.
Gonzaga has now won 9 of its last 10 WCC Tournament outings and seven straight, the last setback to the USF in the 1998 title game.
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