Bulldogs Bounce Fresno State, 87-77

Dec. 6, 2001

LOS ANGELES, Calif. - Gonzaga University got 29 points from senior point guard Dan Dickau and 20 rebounds from sophomore center Cory Violette to down 16th ranked Fresno State University Thursday night in the inaugural Loud Records Fab Four Classic in a battle of Bulldogs at The Forum.

Dickau scored 20 of his points in the second half as the blue-clad Bulldogs downed a ranked team for the second time this season. Gonzaga topped 23rd-ranked University of Texas in the semifinals of the Carrs/Safeway Great Alaska Shootout. FSU is ranked tied for 16th with Michigan State University in the ESPN/USA TODAY Top 25, and 21st in this week's Associated Press Top 25.

With Violette and Zach Gourde doing the damage inside, and Dickau complementing them from the outside, Gonzaga overcame a 25-point, 11-rebound night by FSU's Melvin Ely, and a 22-point performance from Damon Jackson.

The Zags, who trailed 65-60 midway through the second half after a 3-pointer from Jackson, made their move when Dickau connected on a trey from the left corner with 9:52 remaining. Ely countered with a pair of free throws, but Gonzaga rattled off seven straight points for a 70-67 lead. Alex Hernandez hit a big 3-pointer from the top of the right top of the circle, Violette got two of his 15 points on a rebound and Dickau converted a FSU turnover into a 10-foot jumper in the lane for the 70-67 advantage with 7:47 to go and the Bulldogs from Spokane never trailed again.

FSU closed the gap to 70-69 when Noel Felix scored from the left baseline, but Gonzaga went on another 7-0 run to open up a 77-70 lead with 4:57 to go. Hernandez drove the lane for a layin, Gourde made one of his patented hook shots from in close, Dickau made 1-of-2 from the line and Violette got a slam for the exclamation point to end the 14-2 Gonzaga run.

FSU closed to 77-73, but Dickau buried another trey from the left corner, then the Zags made good on 7-of-8 free throws in the final 1:49 to dash any final FSU comeback hopes.

"We did a great job of sharing the ball and swinging it from side-to-side," third-year Gonzaga head coach Mark Few said. "We went to war on the glass early, and 19 offensive rebounds in phenomenal. Cory has had a heck of a year rebounding. He's hitting the glass as well as any player I've seen in my 13 years at Gonzaga."

Gonzaga out-rebounded an opponent from the eighth time in nine outings, only Marquette University holding an edge on the Great Alaska Shootout. And for the seventh time this season the Bulldogs held a double-digit rebounding advantage, winning Thursday's battle 49-32.

"I didn't do anything different," said Violette, who had his third double-double of the season and shattered his previous career rebounding high of 12 reached twice this season. "I think I had a mindset that if we can get the ball and have more possession then we have a better chance to win against a team like Fresno State. The balls just came my way. They were physical, but a lot of guys stayed around Gonzaga to work out this past summer. We got stronger.

"We play with a chip on our shoulder," said Violette, a 6-foot-8, 255-pound junior who led Gonzaga to a 49-32 rebounding advantage. "If you ask our guys, we don't feel like it's an upset."

Neither did Fresno State coach Jerry Tarkanian.

"They were the better team, they deserved to win," Tarkanian said. "They cut our zone to pieces. You can't beat anybody when you get outrebounded the way we did tonight."

Few didn't take anything away from Fresno State's effort.

"This will be a good win down the road for us because I think FSU is going to have a great season. This win will help us in March," Few predicted.

Dickau, who went 8-of-19 from the field and 6-of-10 from 3-point range, said Gonzaga's had good success against the FSU zone.

"Their zone was tough. But we moved the ball well and got cutters on the baseline. We kept moving the zone and got some good looks," he said.

With Gourde and Violette combining for 37 points and 32 of Gonzaga's 49 rebounds, Few, obviously, was pleased with the inside game.

"This team is maybe more inside than last year with Casey Calvary," Few said.

Neither team could break away in the first half, the biggest lead by either team a six-point bulge by FSU at 11-5. Gonzaga's biggest lead of the half was five at 18-13 after a 9-0 Dickau run as he buried three straight 3-pointers. The first came from the right top of the circle with 15:26 to go in the half, the second came 20 seconds later from the top of the corner then he buried another from the left corner off an inbounds play at mid-court. Those were his only thee field goals in a 3-for-7 first half from the field.

But as he did last year at Santa Clara University when he scored 31 of his career-high 39 points in the second half, the John R. Wooden Award Top 50 candidate took charge. He went 5-of-12 from the field in the second half, but more importantly converted 7-of-9 free throws after not getting to the line in the opening 20 minutes, his penetration pressuring the FSU defense.

"We wanted to test their guards," Few said. "Offensively FSU got into a stretch where their guards got into a rhythm of dumping the ball inside to Melvin (Ely) it seemed like 17 straight times. But we adjusted."

Ely scored 16 of his points in the second half, but scored just four points in the final five minutes, two coming on his own rebound. Counting a pair of free throw with 9:03 to go, he managed just eight points in the final 15 minutes after scoring eight of the first 11 points of the second half.

When Ely wasn't scoring, Jackson was a thorn in the Gonzaga side. He scored 10 straight FSU points to help the Bulldogs in red to their 65-60 lead. He hit a 3-pointer from NBA range at the top of the arc, got a slam dunk on a breakaway following a Gonzaga turnover, hit a jumper from the free throw line and got another trey from the right top to end the streak.

Gonzaga shot 44.9 percent for the game, but went 10-for-16 from 3-point range for 62.5 percent. FSU hit on 50.8 percent from the field after hitting 17-of-32 for 53.1 percent in the first half.

The game was only the fourth between the Gonzaga and Fresno State and the first since 1991. Gonzaga leads the overall series 3-1.

The Zags will be idle until Tuesday when they travel across the state to face the University of Washington in a 7:30 p.m. contest. That game is close to a sellout as a limited number of general admission tickets remained through the Husky ticket office late Thursday.

The next home action for the Bulldogs will be one week from Saturday when Washington State University visits The Kennel.


 

 

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