Zags Win Fifth Straight
Dec. 22, 2005
ST. LOUIS (AP) - Held in check most of the game, Adam Morrison showed why he leads Division I in scoring.
Morrison scored seven of his 18 points in the final 4 1/2 minutes to help No. 8 Gonzaga hold off pesky Saint Louis 60-57 on Thursday night, the Bulldogs' fifth straight victory.
"I just did what I do, I guess," Morrison said. "Try to keep the lead extended and get out of here."
Morrison was held well below his average of 28.4 points, partly because of a triangle-and-2 defense led by 6-foot-5 Tommie Liddell and partly because of Saint Louis' patient style. He finished 8-of-15 from the field and had nine rebounds, just missing his second double-double of the season.
"Every time I drove, there were two guys looking at me and two guys on the help side," Morrison said. "You've got to tip your hat to their team to kind of slow me down, I guess you can say."
Still, even his air ball down the stretch came up golden when J.P. Batista grabbed the rebound and made a layup for a 60-53 lead with 2:08 to go.
"In my mind, I passed it," Morrison told reporters. "But all you guys know I air-balled it, so it works out."
Not for Saint Louis coach Brad Soderberg, whose plan unraveled at the end.
"The headliner stepped up," Soderberg said. "It was pretty much in the balance until their All-American decided that they were going to win the game.
"And he won the game right at the end."
Sean Mallon added 10 points for Gonzaga (9-2), which shot 39.7 percent. The Bulldogs beat Saint Louis, which shot 38 percent, by 30 points at home last season.
"A loss is a loss," Liddell said. "But our coach, he told us not to put our heads down. We were right where we wanted to be."
The game drew a crowd of 15,707, nearly double the previous high at Saint Louis this season. The previous best was 8,875 against Southern Illinois on Nov. 30.
"The fans, I know they support Saint Louis, but the majority came to see us play," Morrison said. "I don't want to knock on their program or anything but we know every place we go people are going to be excited to play us."
Ian Vouyoukas had 16 points and six rebounds for Saint Louis (5-5), scoring eight points over the final 3:15 to give the Billikens a shot at the upset. Liddell had 11 points and six rebounds, Dwayne Polk had 11 points and Justin Johnson, getting a rare start, had career bests with 10 points and eight rebounds.
Kevin Lisch missed a 3-pointer from a few feet beyond the arc at the buzzer with Morrison contesting the shot as Saint Louis tried to force overtime.
"It was a real good look," Lisch said. "It just didn't go in."
Gonzaga was held to a season-low for points in the first half, trailing 28-27 even after reserve Nathan Doudney's 3-pointer off an inbounds pass at the buzzer.
Morrison had four points, five rebounds and two fouls in the first half.
Saint Louis starting guard Anthony Drejaj sprained his right foot near the end of the half. He returned on crutches and kept an ice pack on the injury throughout the second half.
Soderberg believes Drejaj, averaging 8.6 points, could miss the rest of the season.
"That's quite honestly what I'm afraid of," Soderberg said. "I know I'm speaking out of turn because he won't be fully evaluated until Monday, but that's my concern."
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