Men's Basketball Looks Solid In Exhibition Victory Over Wayne State
Nov. 1, 2008
SPOKANE, Wash. - Gonzaga University men's basketball team opened the exhibition season with a 96-45 victory over Wayne State College of Nebraska Saturday night before a sellout crowd of 6,000 in the McCarthey Athletic Center.
Mark Few, the Bulldogs 10th-year head coach entering his 20th year overall on the Gonzaga bench, was pleased with the effort his squad put forth.
"It was a good first game tonight. We got solid efforts by all the groups we used. Our guys have been ready to go and match up against another team and produced a solid effort tonight," Few said.
One bright spot was the apparent return to form of center Josh Heytvelt, who played at less than 100 percent with a foot injury throughout the 2008 campaign. Surgery prior to last season didn't heal properly and he had further surgery this past spring.
He scored a game-high 19 points, connecting on 8-of-10 field goals in just 14 minutes of action.
"Josh has improved a lot from last year. He's getting healthy and had a solid night tonight. He's improved on his athleticism which is a big part of his game," Few noted.
All 13 players in uniform saw action, Robert Sacre the lone Bulldog not to suit up as he continues to rehabilitate from foot October surgery.
Gonzaga raced to a quick 18-5 lead in the first six minutes against the NCAA Division II Wildcats who play in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference. Sophomore Austin Daye, who finished with 14 points on 5-of-7 from the field in 17 minutes, scored the first eight points for the Bulldogs on a jumper and a pair of 3-pointers.
Following a Micah Downs layup for two of his 12 points, Hetyvelt got back-to-back baskets, Ira Brown had a put-back dunk and freshman Demetri Goodson got into the act with a layup for the 18-5 advantage.
By halftime Few had used 11 players and had the opportunity to work on several combinations, something he had the luxury of continuing in the second half.
"Our young players got to play with some of our experienced guards tonight and they produced good results," Few said. "Our experienced guys showed some maturity tonight with only the two turnovers in the first half."
Gonzaga shot 74.2 percent in the first half on 23-for-31 and finished at 55.4 percent on 36-65 after shooting 38.2 percent in the second half with a lot of his younger players on the court. At one point the Bulldog lineup consisted of three true freshmen and two walk-ons.
WSC shot a respectable 41.7 percent in the first half on 10-of-24, but slipped to 26.1 percent in the second half on 6-of-23.
The Wildcats were led by guard David Walters with 12 points on a 4-for-7 night from the field that included 2-for-5 from long range. Brian Metz and Brett Spiker each had 7 points.
After winning the battle of the boards by just two in the first half, Gonzaga out-rebounded WSC 26-16 in the second half for a 39-27 edge in the game. Gonzaga had just seven turnovers that led to just two WSC points while the Bulldogs converted 23 Wildcat turnovers into 36 points. The Bulldogs used their inside advantage to hold a 46-14 advantage in points in the paint.
Few said the Bulldogs still need to fine tune some areas of their game.
"I thought we had a solid effort on defense but we still need to continue to improve on defense along with the rebounding," Few said. "We are ahead of where we were at this point last year. We need to continue to improve because the schedule is going to be a great challenge for us. We will continue to work on defense along with some offensive execution but overall I was pretty pleased with our effort tonight."
Gonzaga opens the regular season at home in two weeks when Montana State Billings visits Nov. 15.
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