Men's Basketball Squad Victorious In NCAA-Opener
March 16, 2000
TUCSON, Ariz. - Here they go again.
Gonzaga, the little Jesuit school that became the darling of last season's NCAA tournament with its improbable run to the West Regional final, knocked off Louisville 77-66 in the first round Thursday night behind Richie Frahm's 31 points.
"We're not a Cinderella team anymore," Gonzaga's Ryan Floyd said. "Last year was different because people didn't know who we were. This year we're as talented as we were last year. We're not expecting any Cinderella treatment."
As they were last year, the Bulldogs are seeded 10th in the West. A year ago, their first victim was No. 7 seed Minnesota. This time, the seventh-seeded Cardinals of coach Denny Crum couldn't stop the scrappy and accurate 'Zags.
Despite a season-high 24 turnovers, Gonzaga pulled away in the second half with timely shooting and a tight defense that held Louisville to 38 percent from the field. Crum, though, said the Cardinals were more responsible for the lousy shooting than Gonzaga's defense was.
"We had open shots all over the gym and we just couldn't make them," Crum said. "That's about as bad as we can shoot it."
The Bulldogs (25-8) will play St. John's, a 61-56 winner over Northern Arizona University in Thursday's late game. The Gonzaga-St. John's game will begin 30 minutes following Saturday's 2:30 p.m. PST game between Oklahoma and Purdue.
Marques Maybin scored 21 and Nate Johnson 14 for Louisville (19-12), making its 23rd NCAA appearance in Crum's 29 seasons at the school. It was the second year in a row that the Cardinals lost in the first round as a No. 7 seed.
Matt Santangelo scored 16 and Alex Dench had 14 points, six rebounds and six
assists for Gonzaga, which shot 57 percent from the field.
Frahm, one of four seniors in the Bulldogs' starting lineup, was 4-for-8 from 3-point range and figured at both ends of the most spectacular and decisive moments in the game.
"I've scored 30 before so it's not a new thing, but it was nice," Frahm said. "The whole Frahm household is here to watch it. This could have been the last game of my senior year if I didn't have a good game."
Frahm scored a season-high 32 points against the University of Colorado in the Rainbow Classic (December 30) and had 31 in the Bulldogs victory at San Diego on January 22.
With Gonzaga leading 49-48, Louisville's Quintin Bailey was headed for a breakaway stuff. But the 6-foot-5 Frahm, who had seven blocks all season, somehow blocked Bailey's dunk from behind. At the other end, Frahm sank a 3-pointer from the corner to the roar of the big pro-Bulldogs crowd and Gonzaga led 52-48 with 10:51 to play.
"Sometimes people underestimate the athleticism of this team," Gonzaga coach Mark Few said. "Richie is a very athletic two guard."
Bailey thought Frahm should have been called for a foul.
"I thought I was wide-open coming from halfcourt," Bailey said. "I turned around as I went up and he hit me. I believe it was a foul, but the ref didn't call it and things can't change now. It was a definite momentum shifter. Coach Crum got the technical right after that and everything went downhill from there."
Crum said he didn't know why the technical was called.
"I asked the guy and he said the whole bench jumped up," Crum said. "I said, `So did 10,000 other people.' Everybody in the gym jumped up."
The play triggered an 11-4 run that put the Bulldogs ahead 60-52 on Santangelo's bank shot with 5:50 to go.
"The crowd goes crazy," Few said. "That does nothing but energize your team."
Before Frahm's block and 3-pointer put Gonzaga ahead for good, there were 20 lead changes, 15 in the first half as Louisville clung to a 39-38 lead at the break.
Rashad Brooks' 3-pointer capped an 11-2 run that gave the Cardinals a 32-25 lead with 6:05 left in the half.
"We've been down before, and seven points is nothing to go calling home about," Santangelo said.
After a Gonzaga timeout, Floyd, Frahm and Santangelo sank 3-pointers in a 9-1 spurt that put the Bulldogs back on top 34-33 with 2:45 to go.
While the 'Zags were 8-for-16 from 3-point range, Louisville was 2-for-17. The Cardinals' Tony Williams, a 36 percent 3-point shooter during the season, was 0-for-7. In his final collegiate game, Williams scored nine points in the first half but was 0-for-5 from the field in the second and finished with 11 points.
Last year, Gonzaga beat Minnesota, Stanford and Florida and gave eventual national champion Connecticut a major scare in the NCAA West Regional final in Phoenix. This season, after coach Dan Monson moved to Minnesota and quick guard Quentin Hall used up his eligibility, Gonzaga struggled at times, but won the West Coast Conference tournament with an overtime victory over Pepperdine.
Gonzaga's Casey Calvary, the MVP of the WCC tournament, had two spectacular blocks but took only two shots, both dunks on lob passes. He finished with eight points.
By BOB BAUM
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