Bulldogs Down Vandals In Season Opener

Nov. 18, 2005

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SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) - J.P. Batista scored 23 points, including three straight baskets with the game on the line, and No. 9 Gonzaga beat stubborn Idaho 69-60 on Friday in the season opener for both teams.

Gonzaga, riding the highest preseason ranking in its history, extended its home winning streak to 26, the longest in the nation.

The Vandals lost their sixth straight against Gonzaga, and have not beaten the Zags since 1998.

Batista shot 10-for-13 from the field and made all three of his free throws. He added nine rebounds. Derek Raivio scored 15 of his 19 in the second half, and Adam Morrison added 15 for Gonzaga.

Brett Ledbetter led Idaho with 14 points, and Tanoris Shepard had 11.

After missing all nine of their 3-point attempts in the first 25 minutes, and falling behind the Vandals at halftime, Gonzaga suddenly found the range and sank four 3s in 4 minutes.

Raivio's first 3-pointer gave the Bulldogs a 42-38 lead with 15:14 remaining. He sank two more 3's, and Morrison added another, over the next 3 minutes for a 53-43 lead with 11:49 left.

Both defenses clamped down after that, until Shepard hit a pair of 3-pointers to cut Gonzaga's lead to 59-57 with 4:36 left.

Then Batista bulled inside for three quick baskets as Gonzaga took a 65-59 lead with 2:08 left, and the Bulldogs were able to hang on as Idaho began to foul.



Idaho took a surprising 34-33 halftime lead, outscoring the Zags 11-3 in the final 4 minutes and scoring 14 points off turnovers.

Ledbetter's 3-pointer brought Idaho to within 30-28 with 3:53 left in the first. Then Ledbetter made a layup and the foul shot with 1:28 left to give Idaho its first lead at 32-31, capping a 9-1 run by the Vandals.

Batista, who scored 13 in the first, hit a pair of free throws to give Gonzaga back the lead. But Idaho's Shepard sank two free throws with 5 second left to lift the Vandals to a 34-33 halftime lead.

With the win the Bulldogs extended their home-court winning streak to 26 games, the longest current streak in the country and breaking a tie with idle Washington. The Huskies host American on Saturday.

Gonzaga will depart early Saturday morning for Maui to compete in the EA SPORTS Maui Invitational. The Bulldogs will face Maryland in Monday's first round.

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