Gonzaga Mows Down Hoosiers, Moves On To Sweet 16
March 18, 2006
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - That wispy mustache shouldn't fool anyone. Adam Morrison and his Gonzaga teammates are up there with the big boys of college basketball - in large part because there's more to the Zags than just their superstar.
The Zags proved they're much more than a one-man show Saturday in the second round of the tournament, defeating the Hoosiers 90-80 and making Indiana coach Mike Davis' resignation official despite getting only 14 points from Morrison.
With Indiana defenders draping themselves over Morrison - he of the scraggly, boyish mustache that has provided plenty of tournament snickers - J.P. Batista had 20 points and nine rebounds, Erroll Knight had 11 points and Sean Mallon had a career game with 15 points and 10 rebounds.
"People commit so many resources to stopping Adam that we try to play off that," Gonzaga coach Mark Few said. "If you really watched us, you can see that he's done a nice job of it, and the group has done a nice job of it."
The victory got the third-seeded Bulldogs (29-3) out of the first weekend of the tournament for the first time since 2001, back when they were considered more plucky underdogs than the powerhouse they've become. Gonzaga was ranked in the top 10 all season and made the tournament for the eighth straight time.
"They were a third seed and they probably should have been a one seed," Davis said. "They were the best three seed in the tournament for sure."
And they knocked Indiana out, meaning Davis' next task is to head back to Bloomington to clear out his office.
He announced his resignation last month, effective at the end of the season. The end came despite a super effort from the sixth-seeded Hoosiers (19-12), who nearly won this game from the 3-point line, scoring all but 10 of their 49 second-half points from there.
"My first thought was, I was just proud of the boys," Davis said. "Don't be sad for me. You should be happy for me because I had a great opportunity to coach one of the greatest schools in college basketball."
Next up for Gonzaga is UCLA in the Oakland Regional, where Morrison will have another chance to make his case as the best player in the country.
The junior forward certainly wasn't great against Indiana.
"It's not going to be my night every night," Morrison said. "We still survive and win."
He shot 5-for-17, marking only the sixth time this season he's been held under 20 points. He was frustrated, much as he was in the first-round win against Xavier, and it boiled over early in the second half when he started jawing with Roderick Wilmont.
"Let's not give us a lot of credit, OK," Davis said. "Because he missed some shots today. He got a lot of looks. He still caught the ball."
Morrison and Wilmont each got technicals after their tiff, though it was another T, 22 seconds later on Indiana center Marco Killingsworth, that completely changed this game.
The technical, right after a personal foul, gave Killingsworth four fouls and put him on the bench - turning Indiana's strategy into a 3-or-nothing game. The Hoosiers hit a bunch - 13 to be exact - in the second half and kept the game within reach for most of it.
Robert Vaden went 6-for-13 from behind the line, Marshall Strickland went 6-for-9 and A.J. Ratliff went 3-for-7, along with doing a nice job on Morrison. For a brief moment, it looked as if Davis' plan to trade 3-for-2 down the stretch might actually extend his stay at Indiana.
It wasn't to be, though, and that was mainly because Indiana couldn't stop Gonzaga's wide assortment of long, lanky guys underneath.
Mallon, the 6-foot-9 forward who was once envisioned as the cornerstone of the Gonzaga program, matched his career high in rebounds.
Batista easily won the matchup against Killingsworth (12 points), in large part because he stayed on the court longer.
Knight, a 6-7 swingman, overcame a 102-degree fever earlier in the day, finished 4-for-5 from the floor and gave the Hoosiers fits trying to cover him.
"We have some other players that can really make plays, and they all did tonight," Few said.
With 18 seconds left in his troubled six-year tenure at Indiana, Davis pulled Strickland from the game and the two shared a long hug - the senior guard burying his head in the coach's shoulder.
Then, Davis ended it with class, telling his players to simply dribble out the clock and end it - trailing by 10 and with no chance to win.
He got a nice hand from the few Indiana fans left in the gym when he came to courtside for a radio interview.
In the postgame news conference, his players offered their testimonials.
"He's like a father to me," said Vaden, whose own dad died last summer. "I love him with all my heart. I'm sure he loves me forever. You've just got to move on."
And Strickland: "He helped me grow up. He tested me and really brought a lot of great things out in me."
Listening to that, Davis simply lowered his head to his knees, clearly overcome with emotion.
"I can't explain it," the coach said. "We've been through a lot together. I'm just proud of those guys."
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