Gonzaga Comeback Falls Short Against Wake Forest

Dec. 5, 2009

Box Score

	SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) - Gonzaga forward Elias Harris is not sure why he was ejected late in the first half against Wake Forest.

What is sure is that No. 17 Gonzaga could not recover from the game-changing loss of its second-leading scorer and top rebounder, and fell 77-75 to Wake Forest on Saturday in front of a sellout crowd of 6,000 in the McCarthey Athletic Center.

"My feeling is I did nothing wrong," said Harris, who came in averaging 14 points and 8 rebounds a game.

Harris said he and Wake Forest's Chas McFarland were struggling for rebound position on C.J. Harris' missed 3-pointer.

"I put one hand on his chest and went for the rebound and he fell," Elias Harris said. "I didn't know what happened."

Wake Forest coach Dino Gaudio said he didn't see the play.

"It was a big momentum swing for us," Gaudio said. "I don't feel good for the young man (Harris). He's a terrific kid."

The referees whistled Elias Harris for a flagrant foul and ejected him from the game with Gonzaga (6-2) leading 31-22 with just over 2 minutes left in the half.

C.J. Harris was awarded five free throws - three for the foul on his shot and two for the technical on Harris - and he sank four. Wake Forest (5-2) also got the ball back, and Ari Stewart made a 3-pointer to cut Gonzaga's lead to 33-31. The Demon Deacons took a 34-33 lead at halftime on Stewart's long 3-pointer at the buzzer.

Wake Forest, which shot just 31 percent in the first half, started making its shots. A 19-3 run early in the second, including consecutive 3-pointers by Stewart, gave the Demon Deacons a 55-41 lead. Stewart came off the bench to score 17, making all four of his 3-pointers.

But Gonzaga chipped back. McFarland, Wake's 7-foot center, fouled out with 5:35 left and Wake Forest leading 68-61. After a 3-pointer, Bouldin sank two free throws to cut Gonzaga's deficit to 68-66 with 4:03 left.

The teams traded baskets until Al-Farouq Aminu's dunk gave Wake Forest a 76-73 lead with just over a minute left. Gonzaga's Steven Gray missed a 3-pointer to tie it, and Aminu was fouled on the other end. But he missed both free throws and Gonzaga rebounded with 30 seconds left. Gray was fouled as he launched a 3-pointer with 8 seconds left.

Gray sank his first but missed the next two. Stewart rebounded and was fouled with 5.8 seconds left. He sank one for a 77-74 lead, but missed the second. Bouldin rebounded for Gonzaga but was immediately fouled to avoid a 3-point basket that would have tied the game. Bouldin made one with 3.7 seconds left and deliberately missed the second in an attempt to have the Bulldogs grab the rebound for a final game-equaling shot. But his free throw did not hit the rim which automatically gave possession to WFU. The Demon Deacons inbounded the ball the length of the court and time expired as Gray tried to intercept the pass and then tried to save it from going out of bounds.

The Bulldogs got off to a quick start, going on a 15-0 run midway through the first half to go from a 9-7 deficit to a 22-9 lead with 9:58 to play in the half. Arop tied the game at 9 with a jumper, hit a trey for the lead and Bouldin followed with another trey following a Demon Deacons turnover.

Arop scored on a layin, Demetri Goodson made a layup and a free throw for a 3-point play and Robert Sacre drilled a jumper to cap the run.

The only second-half lead for the Bulldogs was 38-36 with 17:11 to play when Bouldin drove for a layin after Goodson had notted the game at 36 as Gonzaga scored the first five points of the half. But WFU took the lead for good at 39-38 on a 3-pointer by C.J. Harris and the Demon Deacons maintained at least a 7-point lead until the final Bulldog charge in the last five minutes.

The Bulldogs had battled from double-digit deficits in three of their last four games to win, including Wednesday's 74-69 win over Washington State in a game the Bulldogs trailed by as many as 15 points.

C.J. Harris led Wake Forest with 19 points. Aminu, their leading scorer, was limited to nine points, eight below his average, because of foul trouble.

Gonzaga is 65-4 in the McCarthey Athletic Center since the building opened in 2004. They had to rally from a 15-point deficit to beat Washington State at home earlier this week.

This is the first meeting between the teams, who have signed to play four times.

"I would love three more years of this," said C.J. Harris. "I love playing in places like this and getting a W."

Stewart said winning was special.

"It feels great to come and beat Gonzaga, especially when only three other teams have won in this building."

The physical game featured 42 fouls and two technical fouls on Gonzaga.

Gonzaga coach Mark Few pointed to Wake Forest's 42-36 rebound advantage, including 16 offensive rebounds.

"They are a phenomenal offensive rebounding team," Few said. "They got extra shots."

Gonzaga was also hurt by making just 21 of 34 free throws, while the Deacons were sinking 21 of 28.

Matt Bouldin led Gonzaga with 22 points while reserve Bol Kong added 12 second-half points, making all four of his 3-point attempts. Mangisto Arop had 9 points and 9 rebounds for Gonzaga.

This is only Wake Forest's second game in the state of Washington. They beat Washington in 1977.

Gonzaga is 10-5 all-time versus ACC teams.

"Not too many ACC teams are going to come and play these guys," Gaudio said. "They are one of the best teams in the country and it took us seven hours to get here."

Wake Forest was coming off consecutive losses, while Gonzaga had won five in a row.

The Bulldogs remain home Wednesday to face Augustana College, ranked 21st in this week's NCAA Division III poll.



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