Gonzaga Downs Wisconsin To Advance To Maui Invitational Final
Nov. 24, 2009
LAHAINA, Hawaii (AP) - Gonzaga University is back in the championship game of the EA Sports Maui Invitational following a 74-61 victory over the University of Wisconsin in Tuesday's second semifinal.
And one thing is certain. A first-time champion will be crowned.
The Bulldogs (4-1) and the University of Cincinnati (4-0), which defeated the University of Maryland 69-57 in the other semi, will meet at 7 p.m. Pacific Time Wednesday, the victor becoming a first-time Wayne Duke Trophy recipient. Gonzaga is appearing in its third tourney while the Bearcats are in their maiden voyage in Maui.
Gonzaga lost to the University of Connecticut 65-63 in their 2005 title-game appearance, the Bulldogs second trip to the prestigious eight-team tourney.
Gonzaga head coach Mark Few said it might have been the most efficient game of the season, especially offensively.
"That was a very, very complete basketball game for us. We played good on both sides of the ball. I was extremely with the short preparation and how much these guys bought in. Coach Rice (associate head coach Leon Rice) had the scout and there were three or four things we tried to do and we did that. We won the battle of the boards, we needed to take care of the basketball and be very efficient on offense because we knew Wisconsin would do that, they always do that and Bo's teams are tremendous at that. We wanted to really, really defend them and make every shot tough and I thought we did a nice job of that," Few said.
Matt Bouldin scored 18 points to lead four Bulldogs in double figures Tuesday. But the inside play of the Bulldogs Robert Sacre and Elias Harris set the tone early in what figured to be a physical game. After Steven Gray opened the game with a layin off a feed from Bouldin, Sacre and Harris combined to score the next 12 Bulldog points in the first seven minutes of the game. Sacre went a perfect 6-for-6 from the free throw line in that stretch as the Bulldogs pounded the ball inside early. Harris had a rebound put-back off a Bouldin miss and a layin off a baseline cut and a pretty feed from Bouldin, who finished with a game-high five assists.
Gonzaga was clinging to a 19-18 advantage nearing the midway point of the first half when Gray scored back-to-back layins for a 23-18 lead. The second basket came on a slash to the baseline off an inbounds pass from Bouldin. After a Keaton Nankivil free throw made it 23-19, the Bulldogs rattled off the next nine points to open a 13-point lead, their biggest of the half.
Sacre began the 9-0 run with a 12-footer inside the lane and Bouldin drove the lane and was fouled for a 3-point play. Sacre blocked a Jordan Taylor shot and batted the ball toward mid-court, where it was kicked and fumbled all the way to the other end before Gray corralled the loose ball in the scramble and got an easy layin. Goodson capped the run with his coast-to-coast fast break layin set up by a Grant Gibbs rebound and the Bulldogs were up 32-19.
Wisconsin cut the margin to five at 38-33 with a 14-6 run of its own, Jon Leuer and Tim Jarmusz each hitting a pair of free throws and Leuer connecting on a jumper. Bouldin set up Bol King for a layin for the Bulldogs, Jason Bohannon countered with a 3-pointer from the top of the circle for the Badgers and Harris drilled a trey.
But Taylor, who came off the bench to lead all scorers with 19 points, hit a dipsy-doo layin and a jumper from the top of the key sandwiched around a Harris free throw to cut the Gonzaga lead to 38-33. Gray scored on a reverse layin off another inbounds play and Bouldin hit from the right top of the elbow to give Gonzaga a 10-point halftime lead, 43-33.
The Bulldogs extended their lead to 14 at 52-48 when Goodson delivered a coast-to-coast layup with 16:41 to play.
Wisconsin cut the deficit to as few as six, the last time with 7:43 remaining as they went on a 16-8 spurt as the Bulldogs missed four straight shots after the Goodson layin, went 3-for-10 from the field and had three turnovers over the next nine minutes.
Sacre's hook in the lane and foul shot completed the 3-point play and helped get the Bulldogs untracked. Goodson hit an 8-foot floater, Kelly Olynyk and Bouldin each made a pair of free throws and Bouldin had a scoop layin for a 71-56 lead with 3:20 to play. Wisconsin had just two field goals in the last 7:43, one coming with 1:31 to go and the other with 16 ticks left on the clock.
"We were really, really efficient on offensive end. We shot 50 percent from the field in the first half, 21-for-25 from the FT line and only had eight turnovers, and I think at the half we only had two. That's pretty darn efficient on the offensive end. When we were able to string together some stops, which we did do, that allowed us to get that cushion," Few noted.
Few said point guard Demetri Goodson had perhaps his best outing of the young season and that helped Gonzaga play up tempo.
"If you can get stops on defense you can always play up tempo. I think we did a nice job of that. This team is always at its best when it's running. We got a great push from Meech out of the backcourt. He was electric on a couple of those plays. He had us playing fast north-south. That's his role and that's what he's got to do. When we're doing that we're at our best. He's either brining it fast or pitching it ahead to two great guards in Steven (Gray) and Matt (Bouldin) and that's when we are at our best by far."
Gonzaga also won the boards 38-31 with five players having at least four, paced by Harris' eight.
"This group likes to hit and they don't mind to hit," Few said of his physical squad. "They don't mind getting hit. Wisconsin plays you physical in the paint with bodies up on you. I think in the past that might have bothered some of our guys, but it doesn't bother Rob (Sacre) and Elias (Harris). I think they kind of enjoy it. They were efficient and successful against Michigan State with that same kind of defense. We thought we might have an advantage in there with our size and low and behold as we work our way through this season those two are becoming a real force in there," Few said of the dominant inside play.
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