Zags Rout Rice, 88-50, in First Round of NIT Season Tip-Off

Nov. 15, 2006

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SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) - Gonzaga's David Pendergraft was not willing to look past Wednesday's game against Baylor, but he was willing to look past North Carolina's game with Winthrop.

If the Bulldogs beat Baylor on Wednesday, he figures they will face No. 2 North Carolina in Madison Square Garden next week in the semifinals of the NIT Season Tip-Off.

"We've got less than 24 hours rest, but a trip to Madison Square Garden to play North Carolina is on the line," Pendergraft said after Tuesday's 88-50 win by Gonzaga over Rice in the Spokane Arena on Tuesday. "I think we'll get over it pretty quick."

Sophomore Josh Heytvelt scored 25 points and grabbed 11 rebounds as Gonzaga routed Rice in the first round game. Heytvelt, who scored 22 in the season opener for Gonzaga (2-0), continued to make Zags fans forget the early departure of Adam Morrison to the NBA.

"We have a wide capacity to score," said Heytvelt, among nine Gonzaga players to score in the game. "We are not selfish with the ball at all. We share."

Sean Mallon added 14 points and Abdullahi Kuso had 10 points for Gonzaga. Gonzaga outrebounded Rice 52-33, and held Rice to just 29 percent shooting in the game.

"It's obvious that we are more balanced," Mallon said, in comparison to last year's team, in which Morrison and J.P. Batista scored more than 50 percent of the points. "We are stronger on defense."

Morris Almond, the leading scorer in Conference USA last year with an average of 21.9 points per game, was held to 13 points on 4 of 5 shooting for Rice (1-1).

"He's a great player. We did not leave one guy out there with him," Mallon said.

The Owls had beaten Paul Quinn 118-66 in their season opener last week.

Greg Killings led Rice with 18 points.

Heytvelt scored 10 quick points as Gonzaga jumped to a 25-8 lead. The Bulldogs led 42-28 at halftime, after holding Rice to just 11-of-31 shooting for 35 percent in the first.

A 16-2 Gonzaga run early in the second gave them a 58-32 lead. After Rice scored seven straight points, the Zags replied with a 13-0 run - seven by Heytvelt - for a 71-39 lead.

While the Spokane Arena is a neutral court, Gonzaga has won 46 consecutive games in its home city of Spokane, including 41 straight on its home court and five straight in the arena. The last time they lost in Spokane was at home on Feb. 19, 2003, to Portland.

The poorly-promoted game drew less than 7,000 in the 11,000-seat Spokane Arena, even though Gonzaga home games have been sold out for years.

This is the first time Rice and Gonzaga have played.

Gonzaga plays Baylor (2-0) on Wednesday, with the winner earning a trip to New York City for the Nov. 22 semifinals. Rice plays Colorado State (1-1).



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