Men's Basketball Wins Home Opener
Nov. 18, 2001
SPOKANE, Wash. - Gonzaga University's men's basketball team, which less than 48 hours earlier had opened the regular season with a 76-58 loss at second-ranked University of Illinois, returned to the friendly confines of the Martin Centre Sunday to post an 83-63 win over the University of Montana in front of a sellout crowd.
In seeing both teams even their record at 1-1, the Bulldogs won their 13th straight home opener and captured their 18th straight non-conference victory in The Kennel. The last non-conference team to beat the Bulldogs at home was the Grizzlies, 67-63 in 1996, to break what was then a 42-game Kennel winning streak against non-conference foes.
The Bulldogs got a team-high 21 points from junior Zach Gourde, and 13 each off the bench from Alex Hernandez and Ronny Turiaf. Gourde scored 11 of his points in the opening 20 minutes, then got a strong supporting cast from Hernandez, Turiaf and point guard Dan Dickau in the second half.
Dickau was held scoreless in the first half, missing all five field goal attempts, four of them from 3-point range. But he went 3-for-5 in the second half and 4-for-4 from the free throw line for all 11 of his points. Turiaf, who had 3 first-half points while hitting his only field goal attempt, came out in the second half and went 3-for-6 from the field on his way to 10 points. Hernandez, who went 3-for-4 from the field in the opening 20 minutes for 6 points, scored 7 second-half points while again going 3-for-4 from the field, one of them from long range.
Turiaf's lucky number must have been 13 on Sunday as he recorded a double-double with 13 rebounds to go with his 13 points, leading all rebounders.
Montana came after the Bulldogs early, Brent Cummings' 3-pointer just 38 seconds into the contest giving the Grizzlies the first lead. The lead changed hands three times in the next eight minutes, the Grizzlies taking their final advantage at 17-16 when David Bell's trey found the mark. But Hernandez countered with a jumper for an 18-17 Gonzaga lead, one the Bulldogs would not relinquish.
But the Grizzlies, who battled the Bulldogs to the wire last season in a 77-69 Gonzaga win in Missoula, stayed within range most of the half. A layup by Turiaf following a Winston Brooks steal gave Gonzaga the first double-digit lead of the afternoon at 36-25. The lead was 12 at the half as Gonzaga went on a 14-7 run over the final six minutes of the half.
Montana cut the lead to as little as seven points when Cummings hit another trey at 18:02 to cut the deficit to 46-39. But layins by Gourde and Turiaf pushed the lead back to 11. Montana got the margin under 10 one last time on a mini run of 5-0, Bell's jumper making it 52-44 with 13:16 to play.
A Hernandez 3-pointer put the lead back to 11 just 21 seconds later, and the Bulldogs gradually pulled away. The advantage went to 20 with 5:23 to play when Gourde connected on another jumper, and Dickau's 3-pointer with 2:35 remaining gave Gonzaga its biggest lead of the night at 81-59.
Guard Blake Stepp, who got the start Friday at Illinois, was again in the starting lineup Sunday and played 16 minutes, the same as Friday. Blake's status had been in limbo until game day last Friday as he continues to recover from spring knee surgery to repair a degenerative bone.
The Bulldogs shot 49.2 percent from the field, connecting on 29-of-59 shots from the field. The Bulldogs, who hit 8-of-16 free throws on Friday, found the range Sunday with a 22-of-29 showing from the stripe for 75.9 perccent. The Bulldogs again struggled from 3-point range, going 3-for-14 for 21.4 percent on the heals of Friday's 4-for-16 for 25 percent.
Gonzaga will take Monday off, then depart early Tuesday morning for Alaska to compete at the Carrs/Safeway Great Alaska Shootout in Anchorage. The Bulldogs meet St. John's University Thanksgiving Day in the first of three games in three days in one of the few 8-team tournaments remaining.
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