Gonzaga Falls To No. 9 Stanford 87-80
Dec 20, 2003
By JANIE McCAULEY
AP Sports Writer
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) - Before Stanford coach Mike Montgomery said anything, he offered modest Matt Lottich the chance to speak.
"You were the man tonight," Montgomery said.
Boy was he ever.
Lottich scored a career-high and tournament record 34 points with six 3-pointers and No. 9 Stanford remained unbeaten with an 87-80 victory over No. 13 Gonzaga in the Pete Newell Challenge on Saturday night.
"I got into a rhythm early," Lottich said. "I caught fire like shooters do, and when you're in that zone you have to shoot the ball."
Justin Davis added 18 points and nine rebounds, and Rob Little had 14 points and seven boards for Stanford (7-0), which outhustled the Gonzaga to loose balls most of the game and contained the cold-shooting Bulldogs with in-your-face defense.
"Justin and Rob set the tone," Montgomery said. "The fact we played hard in the first half took them out of what they were trying to do."
Blake Stepp and Adam Morrison had 20 points apiece to lead Gonzaga (7-2), which had its seven-game winning streak snapped. The Bulldogs' only other loss this season was to No. 11 Saint Joseph's in the season opener at Madison Square Garden. Scoring leader Ronny Turiaf was held to 10 points and battled foul trouble all game.
"We never really got into a rhythm offensively or anything else," Gonzaga coach Mark Few said. "They played harder, they were more aggressive, they made the most of their post touches, and every time we lost the ball, Lottich came up with it and scored.
"They were in an attack mode the entire game. We were back on our heels, especially early."
Morrison scored a career high in a game that featured a combined 19 3-pointers.
Stepp hit back-to-back 3s to pull Gonzaga to 68-61 with 4:42 left, chipping away at what was a 17-point deficit, but Lottich answered from long range on the other end yet again. Stepp fouled out with 40.8 left.
Lottich, who also had seven assists with an alley-oop on a dunk by Davis with 30 seconds left, shot 12-for-17, making all but one of his seven 3-point tries. His previous career high was 23 points twice.
"He makes a lot of big shots," Stepp said. "Somehow he found a little seam and he made us pay for it."
Stanford made all 10 of its free throws in the final 1? minutes to stave off a late Gonzaga rally.
Montgomery considered this his team's toughest test yet - ahead of a victory against then-No. 1 Kansas two weeks ago at the John Wooden Classic - because he thinks Stanford and Gonzaga play such similar hard-nosed styles.
The Cardinal used a second-half rally to beat the Bulldogs 81-71 here last year, and this marked the first rematch in the seven-year history of the event.
Stanford didn't need to stage a comeback this time.
Lottich scored five straight points during a 9-2 run midway through the second half as the Cardinal built their biggest lead, 53-36.
The 6-foot-10, 243-pound Turiaf played limited minutes in last year's meeting because of a high ankle sprain, and this time he also spent a lot of time on the bench because of foul trouble.
Both teams have recorded big upsets recently: The Cardinal beat Kansas and the Bulldogs knocked off then-No. 3 Missouri last weekend.
Stanford welcomed the return of point guard and leading scorer Chris Hernandez, who sat out the team's past two games with back spasms.
Hernandez, averaging 14 points, had nine points and four assists in 25 minutes.
Gonzaga began the game 4-of-18 and Turiaf didn't score until the 8:38 mark in the first half. He was whistled for his third foul 3:33 before halftime on a charge.
The Bulldogs switched between zone and man-to-man defenses to try to fluster Stanford's talented outside shooters, but it wasn't very effective thanks to the Cardinal's rapid ball movement.
Davis dunked on a putback as the first-half buzzer sounded, giving Stanford a 39-27 lead at the break.
Josh Childress, a junior forward and the Cardinal's top returning scorer from last season, has a stress reaction in his left foot and hasn't played yet this season. He's expected back by early January, when the Pac-10 season begins.
Gonzaga, which had defeated then No. 3 Missouri in the Battle in Seattle last weekend, will now break for Christmas and return later in the week to prepare for a Sunday matchup with Washington State in The Kennel.
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