Zags Open Season With 92-74 Win Over MVSU
Nov. 14, 2009
SPOKANE, Wash. - Gonzaga University's men's basketball team opened the 2010 season with an impressive 92-74 victory over Mississippi Valley State University Saturday evening at the sold out McCarthey Athletic Center.
Matt Bouldin scored a game-high 22 points, including four 3-pointers, to lead four Bulldogs in double figures. Freshman newcomer Elias Harris scored 18 points and grabbed seven rebounds, going 6-for-8 from the field and a perfect 6-for-6 from the free throw line in his collegiate debut. Veteran Robert Sacre, back in the lineup after playing in just five games a year ago before being sidelined with a broken foot, scored a career-high 17 points and hauled in a career-high nine rebounds.
The Delta Devils were playing their second game in as many nights after losing their season opener Friday at Washington State University 94-66.
Gonzaga built a quick 10-point lead at 15-5 as Steven Gray scored the last five points of an 8-0 run early in the opening half and Bouldin had his first trey of the night in the run.
MVSU cut the lead to two on a couple of occasions, but a 22-2 run by the Bulldogs expanded the advantage to 45-22 with 1:18 remaining in the first half. MVSU went on an 8-0 run of its own to end the half, aided by a Bulldog turnover that resulted in a traditional 3-point play and a pair of missed free throws that led to the Delta Devils hitting a trey with four seconds remaining in the half. Gonzaga took a 45-30 lead to halftime.
Gonzaga built the lead to 49-30 early in the second half, Harris opening the half with a pair of free throws and a jumper. The Delta Devils closed the gap to 11 with another 8-0 run on a pair of three's and two free throws. But a Bouldin 3-pointer, a Harris layup and a Bouldin layup pushed the lead back to 18 and the Bulldogs never looked back.
By the 8:00 mark Gonzaga had a 71-45 lead, Gray hitting all three free throws after being fouled on a 3-point attempt, then following with a trey and Bouldin capping the 15-4 run with a layup for a 71-45 lead with 8:00 remaining.
Gonzaga had as much as a 27-point lead with 3:46 to play,
Overall, Gonzaga head coach Mark Few was pleased with the effort.
"There was some good and there was some bad. We'll break the film down and show it to our guys, try to accentuate the positive and make sure we get through some of the negatives," Few said. "There were stretches of pretty good effort and execution at times, but then there would be a silly turnover that led to a run out and they'd kind of climb back into it. MSVU played their tails off and made shots when we broke down on defense they made us pay by shooting the three."
Few said MVSU's speed and perimeter shooting kept them in the game for awhile.
"They are a fast team, very quick team. Their effort and their speed and the way they shot the ball well from the perimeter kept them in it," he said.
While the veterans such as Bouldin, Sacre and Gray played well, Few said the play of Harris came as no real surprise.
"Elias has been playing very well for us. That's why we brought him in here," Few said.
But the play of Sacre and the consistency of Bouldin also caught the coach's attention.
"We've definitely been pleased with the way he (Harris) and Rob (Sacre) have both been playing inside. Matt had a solid game. He does a good job of taking what they give him. He hit some threes and got us going. He distributed the ball well and kind of played Matt's game," Few said.
Bouldin went 7-for-13 from the field, including 4-for-9 from 3-oint range and grabbed six rebounds and dished out five assists.
Gray also had a solid line, going 5-for-8 from the field, hauling in five rebounds and collecting a career-high seven assists.
Few came close to clearing his bench, and freshmen newcomers Harris, Mangisto Arop, Kelly Olynyk and G.J. Vilarino all played double-digit minutes. In addition, redshirt freshmen Grant Gibbs (11 minutes), Andy Poling (2 minutes) and Mike Hart (2 minutes) also got their first taste of Division I basketball.
Gonzaga has seven newcomers and a total of 10 players who had not played a minute of Division I basketball.
"This is a young team and they will go through stretches where they play well and do some things and there will be stretches where they aren't going to play very well," Few said. "That's what we saw tonight a little bit. We got some of those young guys in who didn't function too well and we got our main group in there and they built it back up a little bit. Hopefully we'll get those guys more consistent, running the floor and continue to push the ball. That's kind of what got us our lead and stretched it open. By and large I thought it was a good effort by our guys."
The Bulldogs will get a stiff early-season test Tuesday when they travel to Michigan State University Tuesday to face the Spartans, currently ranked second in both major national polls.
"MSU is a tremendous ball club, a tremendous program with their consistency and they have a Hall of Fame coach (Tom Izzo) on the bench. They are a team picked to probably make it to the championship game and battle for the national championship. To play them on their home floor this early is quite a task but I think we look at it as an opportunity," Few said.
The Bulldogs return home Friday against IPFW prior to heading to the EA Sports Maui Invitational Nov. 23-25, opening with the University of Colorado.
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