No. 16 Gonzaga Downs Eastern Washington Again

Dec 31, 2003

Box Score

By NICHOLAS K. GERANIOS
Associated Press Writer

SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) - Gonzaga's romp over local rival Eastern Washington turned out to be expensive, with seniors Tony Skinner and Richard Fox sustaining injuries.

Skinner, a starting forward, broke his hand early in No. 16 Gonzaga's 70-49 victory Wednesday. Fox, a center, went out with a knee injury.

Coach Mark Few said Skinner will likely be out for several months. The prognosis for Fox was unclear.

Other than the injuries, Few was pleased with the way his team dominated a local rival that made strong upset bids the past two seasons.

"They are tough, hard-nosed and they know how to compete," said Few, who is close friends with Eastern coach Ray Giacoletti. "We beat a good team in a rivalry game."

Gonzaga (9-2) got 15 points each from Ronny Turiaf and freshman Adam Morrison. Turiaf blocked three shots and added six rebounds. Blake Stepp had 14 points and eight assists for the Bulldogs.

Eastern Washington (3-9) was held to a season-low in points and in 29 percent shooting, making just 17 of 58 shots. They suffered seven blocked shots, 15 turnovers and were outrebounded 45-30. Marc Axton led them with 10 points. Alvin Snow, leading the team with 14 points per game, was held to three points.

"Forty nine points isn't going to get it done," Giacoletti said. "We've got to find a way to manage easier baskets."

The Eagles became frustrated as Gonzaga opened a big first quarter lead, he said.

"People want to do something extra, something outside the framework," Giacoletti said. "That gets you in trouble."

Gonzaga has won 18 in a row and 26 of the past 27 games against Eastern Washington, a Big Sky Conference school in suburban Cheney. Eastern's last win was in 1990, Gonzaga's last losing season.

 

 

Eastern Washington blew big leads to lose close games against Gonzaga the past two years. That was not the case this time, when the overmatched Eagles shot just 23 percent in the first half, making just six of 26 shots.

Eastern also suffered five blocked shots and seven steals in the first half as Gonzaga built a 41-21 halftime lead.

Gonzaga was not threatened in the second half. But the Bulldogs, who came in averaging 84 points, put on a lackluster performance despite being heavily favored by a sellout crowd of 12,299 in the Spokane Arena

For Morrison, it was the 10th time in his 11-game college career that he has scored in double figures.

The injuries to Skinner and Fox will test the Bulldogs' reputed depth, Few said. Morrison, Sean Mallon and Erroll Knight will likely see more playing time, Few said.

"That depth we talked about, now is the time to use it," Few said.

Gonzaga also beat Washington State and Washington to sweep the other Division I programs in the state for the third consecutive season. The Bulldogs have not lost to an in-state rival since falling to Washington State and Washington in the 1997-98 season.

Eastern led 7-4 when Stepp scored eight consecutive points - two 3-pointers wrapped around a field goal - for a 12-7 lead with 14 minutes left in the half. Gonzaga never relinquished that lead.

Turiaf's dunk lifted Gonzaga to a 30-17 lead with 4 minutes left in the first.

In the second half, Eastern had a six-minute scoring drought to fall behind 57-33 with 7:15 left.

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