Bulldogs Bid Adieu To Five Seniors In Home Finale

March 3, 2009

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Men's Basketball Game Facts
Game No. 29 - USC Upstate
Tuesday, March 3 - 6 p.m. PST
McCarthey Athletic Center - Spokane, WA
Radio: News Talk 1510 KGA (Spokane);
101.1 FM Rock `N' Roll's Greatest Hits (Spokane)
Pre-game show 30 minutes prior to tipoff
TV: KHQ-TV (Spokane); FSN (check local listing)
No. 14/14 GONZAGA UNIVERSITY BULLDOGS (23-5; 14-0 West Coast)
G -   2 Jeremy Pargo, 6-2, 220, Sr., Chicago, IL
       (9.7 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 5.0 assists, 1.3 steals)
G - 11 Andrew Sorenson, 6-2, 172, Sr., Olympia, WA
       (1.6 ppg, 0.3 rpg)
G - 22 Micah Downs, 6-8, 194, Sr., Kirkland, WA
       (8.8 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 1.2 assists, 0.8 steals, 0.5 blocks)
C -  42 Josh Heytvelt, 6-11, 260, Sr., Clarkston, WA
       (15.3 ppg, 6.8 rpg, 0.6 assists, 0.5 steals, 0.9 blocks)
F -   50 Ira Brown, 6-4, 235, Sr., Conroe, TX
       (2.6 ppg, 2.3 rpg, 0.4 steals, 0.5 blocks)
HEAD COACH:  Mark Few (University of Oregon, 1987)
GONZAGA RECORD:  259-65 (10th year - 20th at GU)  CAREER RECORD:  Same

USC UPSTATE SPARTANS (9-20; 8-12 Atlantic Sun) G - 13 Gabor Boros, 6-4, 198, Sr., Debrecen, Hungary (5.4 ppg, 2.0 rpg, 1.7 assists, 0.6 steals) G - 20 Josh Chavis, 5-9, 170, So., Greensboro, NC (8.4 ppg, 2.2 rpg, 2.3 assists, 0.8 steals) C - 14 Nick Schneiders, 7-3, 250, Jr., Rietberg, Germany (9.6 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 1.0 assists, 0.4 steals, 2.6 blocks) F - 21 Mezie Uzochukwu, 6-5, 220, So., Greensboro, NC (6.5 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 1.4 assists, 0.9 steals) F - 23 Bobby Davis, 6-6, 230, Sr., Aiken, SC (14.6 ppg, 9.1 rpg, 2.6 assists, 1.6 steals, 0.6 blocks) HEAD COACH: Eddie Payne (Wake Forest, 1973) USCU RECORD: 109-97 (6th year) CAREER RECORD: 369-330 (23rd year) GAMES PRIOR TO GONZAGA: 2/28 vs. Kennesaw State.

NOTE: Ranking is Associated Press and USA Today/ESPN.

Gonzaga University, an unprecedented third 14-0 West Coast Conference season wrapped up and with it the No. 1 seed into the WCC Tournament, now turns its attention to sending its seniors out in style. Tuesday is Senior Night and the opponent is USC Upstate in town for the 6 p.m. tipoff. Five Bulldog seniors - Jeremy Pargo, Josh Heytvelt, Micah Downs, Andrew Sorenson and Ira Brown will play their final game in the McCarthey Athletic Center.

This is exactly where Gonzaga expects to be at this time of the year - undefeated in the conference and getting ready for tournament time. The Bulldogs became the first West Coast Conference team to go undefeated in three conference seasons, beating San Diego 58-47 Saturday. Matt Bouldin led Gonzaga with 15 points, seven rebounds and three assists. Jeremy Pargo finished with 12 points and Josh Heytvelt and Micah Downs each scored 11 for the Bulldogs, who already clinched their ninth straight regular-season conference title. Heytvelt hit a free throw and a jumper on the Bulldogs' first two possessions of the second half for their biggest lead to that point at 29-18. Heytvelt also scored Gonzaga's first three baskets of the game, including two 3-pointers. San Diego cut the lead to 31-26 before the Bulldogs scored on six straight possessions to take a 46-31 lead with 10:46 remaining. Downs hit consecutive 3-point shots, Bouldin converted a conventional 3-point play, Ira Brown made two free throws, Demetri Goodson hit a jumper, and Bouldin scored on a drive. Matt Dorr sank a pair of 3-point shots as the Toreros outscored Gonzaga 10-2 over the next four minutes to make it 48-41. But San Diego scored only one more basket the rest of the game, on Danny Brown's 3-pointer with 46.5 seconds remaining.

USC Upstate is located in Spartanburg, S.C. The Spartans are in their second season in the NCAA Division I ranks and are members of the Atlantic Sun Conference. USC Upstate's non-conference schedule is ranked 20th in the country, the team playing four 2008 NCAA Tournament teams in Belmont University, University of Georgia, University of Notre Dame and Gonzaga University. Prior to joining the NCAA Division I ranks, the Spartans made back-to-back appearances in the NCAA Division II Tournament in 2005 and 2006. Previously known as USC Spartanburg, that team won the 1982 NAIA national championship. When known as USC Spartanburg the nickname was Rifles, both changing names in 2004 to USC Upstate and the Spartans. This is the first meeting between the two teams.

Gonzaga University jumped three spots in both the Associated Press and USA Today/ESPN Top 25 basketball polls. The Bulldogs put the finishing touches on a 14-0 West Coast Conference season last weekend while improving their overall record to 23-5. Another week of upsets saw the University of Connecticut unseat the University of Pittsburgh for the top spot in both polls. The two teams meet Saturday. The Bulldogs have been as high as fourth in both polls.

Gonzaga University has hit the 20-win mark for a 12th-straight season. The Bulldogs hit the plateau for the 16th time in the last 18 years. Gonzaga head coach Mark Few has been a part of all 16 20-win seasons, including all 10 of his years as head coach. Gonzaga has won at least 23 games in each of those 12 seasons.

Gonzaga University, which lost 4-of-5 games to close out calendar year 2008, has been hard to beat since the calendar changed to 2009. The Bulldogs have won six straight and 15-of-16 since suffering a 66-65 New Year's Eve loss at the University of Utah. Only the University of Memphis, currently ranked as high as third, has been able to dent the Bulldogs armor in that stretch.

With a 14-0 West Coast Conference slate tucked away, Gonzaga University will enter the 2010 WCC campaign with 21 straight regular-season wins in Conference play. The last regular-season loss suffered by the Bulldogs was Feb. 4, 2008, at Saint Mary's College 89-85 in overtime.

Senior Jeremy Pargo had three assists against Pepperdine University Feb. 21 to move ahead of former Gonzaga University great and probably soon-to-be NBA Hall of Famer John Stockton for third on the all-time Bulldog assists list, Pargo now with 563. Stockton retired from the NBA as its all-time leader in assists and steals. Pargo has 162 career steals to move into third ahead of Blake Stepp.

Current USC Upstate head coach Eddie Payne is no stranger to the Pacific Northwest. He was head coach at Oregon State University from 1996-00, and had impressive victories over UCLA, Stanford University and the University of Arizona in the 1999 season. Basketball also runs deep in the Payne household. Payne is in his 23rd year as a head coach, the last eight with the Spartans. His son, Luke, was a senior member of the Spartans last season and just signed with a pro team in Australia. Payne's wife, Ann, is the former head women's coach at the University of Alabama.

There's no place like home, and the McCarthey Athletic Center has become quite the home for the Bulldogs since it opened for the 2004-05 season. Gonzaga is 62-3 in the new facility, winning its first 38 games in the McCarthey Athletic Center. Santa Clara University halted the streak with an 84-73 victory Feb. 12, 2007. That loss also snapped a 50-game home winning streak for the Bulldogs, at the time the longest streak in the nation, as Gonzaga left the old Kennel with 12 straight home victories. Gonzaga's other losses were last season to Washington State University and this year's setback to Portland State University.

Gonzaga University head coach Mark Few moved into second place on the school's all-time winningest coaches list with the Bulldogs victory Feb. 5 at the University of Portland. Few, in his 10th season, is now 259-65 and moved ahead of Dan Fitzgerald (252-171 in 15 years). Hank Anderson (290-275 in 21 seasons) is the all-time leader. Few is the active winningest coach in West Coast Conference games at 127-13, moving ahead of Fitzgerald (112-88) on the all-time wins list. Few also moved ahead of Dick Davey of Santa Clara University (122-88) for second with Gonzaga's victory at the University of San Francisco Feb. 14. Carroll Williams, SCU (165-137) holds the top spot.

Gonzaga University senior Jeremy Pargo is up for another post-season award, the Chicago, Ill., native one of 17 finalists for the Bob Cousy Award sponsored by The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, in conjunction with The Hartford Financial Services Group, Inc. The award is presented annually to the nation's top collegiate point guard. The 17 finalists were chosen from a pool of over 60 top candidates from NCAA Division I, II and III institutions across the country. The 2009 Finalists were selected by screening committees comprised of media members representing all three divisions of collegiate basketball. In addition to Pargo, the other finalists are Sheron Collins University, Kansas; Darren Collison, UCLA; Stephen Curry, Davidson; Toney Douglas, Florida State; Levance Fields, Pittsburgh; Jonny Flynn, Syracuse; Dominic James, Marquette; Ty Lawson, North Carolina; Eric Maynor, Virginia Commonwealth; Patrick Mills, St. Mary's; AJ Price, Connecticut, and Jeff Teague, Wake Forest. Pargo was also a John R. Wooden Award Pre-Season Top 50 candidate, and along with teammate Josh Heytvelt was a Naismith Trophy Top 30 candidate.

Gonzaga University head coach Mark Few added two players to the Bulldog fold to letters-of-intent. Sam Dower, a 6-9, 220-pound left-handed senior center/forward from Osseo, Minn., High School and 6-5, 185-pound wing Mangisto "Manny" Arop will join GU next season. Dower averaged 22 ppg and 10 rpg per game in the month of July and 18 ppg and 9 rpg for this past AAU season, according to head coach Marquise Watts of Net Gain Sports, Dower's AAU club. Net Gain Sports won the Twin Cities Summer Classic, won the adidas 64 Gold Division in Las Vegas and went 3-2 in round-robin play in the Duel in the Desert in Phoenix, according to Watts. "He can score for a big guy. He's a lefty so that makes it harder to defend because most people aren't used to seeing a lefthander," Few said. "He can make a difference and is a unique post player. He had a good spring and a great summer." Watts said Dower has worked hard to improve his game. "Every day over the last two years he's gotten better. I don't think he's begun to scratch the surface. His inside-outside game, he can shoot the three and on the block he's a lefty with a great hook shot," Watts said. "He's athletic, he's working on putting on weight and he will fit in real well at Gonzaga." Dower didn't make the varsity team at Osseo until midway through his sophomore year. He averaged 2.5 ppg and 1.6 rpg then blossomed last season to average 13.4 ppg and 5.9 rpg. Last season he scored in double figures 23 times and had double-digit rebounds six times. The Orioles went 28-1, their lone setback 60-59 in the Region finals. He scored a career-high 23 points at Coon Rapids and grabbed a career-high 12 rebounds at Orono. He had several scholarship offers, among them the University of Minnesota, Marquette University and the University of Iowa. Arop, born in the Sudan, currently lives in Hamilton, Ontario, where he plays with Basketball Canada's National Elite Development Academy (NEDA) which is basically Canada's Junior National Team. His first name is pronounced Man-GEESE-toe, his last name pronounced "rop" (the "a" is silent) but he goes simply by Manny. He recently set a single-game scoring NEDA scoring record with 42 points, and this past summer played for Canada in the FIBA Americas Championship in Formosa, Argentina. He averaged 17.0 ppg to rank second, 10.2 rpg to rank third, shot 52.8 percent from the field on 23-for-58 and 87.5 percent from the line on 14-of-15 in the five tournament games as Canada placed fifth. He had 21 points and 9 rebounds against the U.S. in the tourney. "Manny is a high energy player with a great competitive streak," Few said. "His skill level is something to be excited about. He has a great opportunity to be effective for us at both ends of the court." His mother and four brothers left Sudan when he was 9-years-old and lived in Kenya prior to re-locating to Regina, Saskatchewan. Arop then spent a year in Edmonton, Alberta, before joining Basketball Canada's NEDA program, which is a year-round junior development camp.

Gonzaga University head coach Mark Few and wife Marcy gave birth to son Colt Walker Norman Few on New Year's Day, the couple's fourth child joining Austin James (A.J.), Joe and Julia.

Gonzaga University clinched its ninth straight West Coast Conference title last weekend and with it the No. 1 seed into the West Coast Conference Tournament March 6-9 at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas, Nev. The Bulldogs, as the top seed, will not play until the Sunday semifinal at 6:30 p.m. against No. 4 Santa Clara University, No. 5 University of San Diego or No. 8 Loyola Marymount University. The USD-LMU game will take place on Friday, with the winner facing SCU Saturday. That winner faces the Bulldogs in Sunday's first semifinal. No. 2 finisher Saint Mary's College will play No. 3 University of Portland, No. 6 Pepperdine University of No. 7 University of San Francisco in the 8:30 p.m. semifinal. Pepperdine meets USF on Friday with the winner facing Portland Saturday. That winner meets Saint Mary's in Sunday's second semifinal. The title game will be Monday at 6 p.m. with the winner receiving the automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament.

The nine straight West Coast Conference regular-season titles by Gonzaga University marks the longest current streak in the nation and ranks tied for fourth all-time in the NCAA Division I ranks, the Bulldogs knotting the University of Kentucky. The Wildcats won nine straight Southeastern Conference crowns from 1944-52. UCLA's 13 Pacific-10 Conference titles from 1967-79 head the list.

Gonzaga University slipped to No. 2 as the top defensive field goal percentage team in the nation according to statistics through last weekend's games, opponents connecting on just 37.2 percent (604-for-1631) from the field. The University of Memphis slid in front of the Bulldogs at 37.1 percent. The Bulldogs saw Santa Clara University shoot 46.8 percent from the field last Thursday (29-for-62) for the highest percentage of any Bulldog opponent this season. The University of San Diego connected on just 37.2 percent last Saturday, Gonzaga holding 20 opponents under 40.0 percent from the field this season. The Bulldogs held the University of Idaho to a season-low 29.8 percent (14-for-47).

Gonzaga University senior Josh Heytvelt has been named the West Coast Conference Player of the Week. The Clarkston, Wash., native averaged 20.0 ppg and 6.5 rpg in road wins over Santa Clara University and the University of San Diego as Gonzaga wrapped up an undefeated season. He went 16-for-23 from the field for 69.6 percent, including 4-4 from 3-point range. He scored a career-high 29 points at Santa Clara, the second straight game he had recorded a career high points after scoring 28 the previous week at home against Pepperdine University. He also grabbed nine rebounds against the Broncos. Heytvelt was also the lone Bulldog named to the 2009 WCC Winter All-Academic Team. He is carrying a 3.5 grade point average as a graduate student in Organizational Leadership.

Gonzaga University sophomore Robert Sacre continues to recover from a broken right foot suffered Dec. 5 in practice, the same foot he had a pin inserted in earlier this fall to help heal a non-displaced stress fracture. The newest fracture is in front of the previous stress fracture. He has been cleared to begin individual workouts. He will undergo weekly x-rays to chart the healing progress.

Sophomore Austin Daye continues to climb up the all-time Gonzaga University blocked shots list. He now has 112 to move past Tim Ruff (1981-85) for third. Ronny Turiaf (2002-05) is second with 179 and Casey Calvary (1998-01) sits atop the list with 207.

Gonzaga University senior Jeremy Pargo became the 30th member of the 1,000-point club for the Bulldogs, and junior Matt Bouldin and senior Josh Heytvelt became the 31st and 32nd members, respectively. Pargo has 1,168 career points to tie Greg Sten for 20th. Heytvelt has 1,094 for 25th and Bouldin has 1,089 for 26th. It's the first time since 2004 the Bulldogs have had three 1,000-point scorers on the court when Ronny Turiaf, Blake Stepp and Cory Violette accomplished the feat.

 

 

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