Comeback Falls Short Against No. 1 Cincinnati
Dec. 4, 1999
CLEVELAND, Ohio - Gonzaga University, ranked 25th by Associated Press, battled back from a 20-point first-half deficit to put a scare into the top-ranked University of Cincinnati Bearcats before falling 75-68 at the Rock-N-Roll Shootout at Gund Arena here Saturday.
The Bulldogs, playing the first of a tough four-game road swing which continues Wednesday against 9th-ranked Temple University, came out flat for the first 20 minutes in a battle of 4-0 teams. With guard Steve Logan pouring in 10 of his game-high 21 points in the first half and Kenyon Martin turning in a dominating defensive display, Cincinnati raced to an 8-0 lead. Neither team shot well early, but Gonzaga didn't score its first points of the game until Mark Spink's layup 5:34 into the half. After falling behind by 14 in the first 10 minutes of the half, Gonzaga came back to get the deficit back into single digits by going on a 7-2 run. A Zach Gourde layin, three free throws by Richie Frahm and a Ryan Floyd 3-pointer cut the Cincinnati lead to 25-16 with 7:09 to go. But the Bearcats made three 3 -pointers in the next two minutes and quickly had the lead back to 17 points at 34-17 on the strength of a 9-1 spurt.
The first-half lead went to 20 points when Gonzaga hit another scoreless streak of 3:35 and the Bearcats made six straight free throws for a 42-22 advantage with 1:06 to go in the half. Axel Dench's 3-pointer 41 seconds before intermission ended the Zags' drought and gave Cincinnati a 42-25 halftime lead.
Gonzaga, which went 9-for-32 for 28.1 percent from the field in the first half, found it's shooting touch and played with more intensity in the second half. Casey Calvary came out and hit a quick 3-pointer and the Bulldogs slowly began to chip away at the deficit.
Martin's slam dunk with 14:44 left gave Cincinnati a 50-34 lead, but a Dench jumper and a Spink layin made it 50-38 with 12:19 remaining. Still trailing by 14 after a pair of Martin free throws pushed the Cincy lead to 54-40, the Bulldogs made their run.
Spink started the 11-4 onslaught with a jumper, then Santangelo and Frahm connected on back-to-back 3-pointers to pull Gonzaga within 6 points at 57-51 with 8:24 to play. Following a Martin dunk, Gonzaga cut the deficit to 5 points when Casey Calvary had a thunder dunk down the middle of the lane with Martin hanging on him. Calvary was cut under the left eye on the play and Mike Nilson entered the game to make the free throw to complete the 3-point play and cut the Cincinnati lead to 56-51 with 8:44 showing.
Gonzaga was not able to cut the deficit further and Cincinnati pushed the lead back to 10 points with 4:54 to go. Gonzaga crawled back to within 7 points three times with under a minute to go, including the final margin.
Gonzaga hit 16-of-32 second-half shots while Cincinnati cooled off and hit 9-of-24 second-half attempts for 37.5 percent. Gonzaga also ended up with a 39-37 edge in rebounding including a 20-17 second-half advantage. Gonzaga, shooting 28.8 percent from 3-point range entering the game, had another chilly night from outside the arc with an 8-for-23 performance for 34.8 percent. The Bulldogs shot a season-low 39.1 percent from the field on a 25-for-64 night. Gonzaga had not been under 48.3 percent from the field in any game this season prior to Saturday.
Martin, who finished with 16 points, 13 rebounds and four blocked shots, had all four rejections and eight of his rebounds in the first half as he dominated the inside. His 13 rebounds tied his Rock-N-Roll Shootout record set last year. Logan hurt the Bulldogs from the outside, going 4-for-4 from 3-point range as part of a 6-for-8 night from the field.
Frahm scored a game-high 16 points for Gonzaga, Calvary added 13 and Santangelo 12.
The Bulldogs, who went to the NCAA Elite Eight a year ago, will play in the Great 8 Wednesday in Chicago, facing Temple. Gonzaga continues its tough early December schedule next Saturday at UCLA, then concludes the 4-game stretch one week from Monday against the University of Washington.
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