Gonzaga-St. John's Game Notes

March 17, 2000


GAME: No. 10 Gonzaga (25-8) vs. No. 2 St. John's (25-7), West Regional, Second Round.
TIME: Saturday, 7:55 p.m. EST.
SITE: McKale Center, Tucson, Ariz.

A few days ago, most everyone had St. John's and Arizona penciled into next weekend's West Regional final.

Now it looks like the Red Storm will be lucky just to get by Gonzaga in the second round.

St. John's, thought by many to be a serious Final Four contender, nearly became the fourth No. 2 seed in history to lose to a 15 seed, surviving an upset bid by Northern Arizona before escaping with a 61-56 win Thursday.

Gonzaga is no stranger to the pressure of the NCAA tournament, reaching the West Regional final last year as a 10 seed before losing to eventual champion Connecticut.

"(Gonzaga is) not a Cinderella team this year," said St. John's guard Bootsy Thornton, who scored 20 points against Northern Arizona. "The Cinderella year was last year. They're not a mystery. Everybody knows they're good."

On Thursday, the Bulldogs picked up right where they left off with a 77-66 win over No. 7 Louisville. The West Coast Conference tournament champions were the only lower seed to advance to the second round Thursday.

The winner advances to next Thursday's regional semifinals in Albuquerque, N.M. against the winner of Saturday's game between No. 3 Oklahoma and No. 6 Purdue.

St. John's needed Lavor Postell's three-point play in the final seconds and then a steal from Erick Barkley to hold off Northern Arizona.

"I expected to have a tough game, but I did not expect anything like that," St. John's coach Mike Jarvis said. "We obviously did not put forth our best effort, but we came through when it counted at the end."

Don't expect to see Gonzaga duplicate Northern Arizona's 7-for-23 3-point shooting effort on Saturday. The Bulldogs, behind sharpshooter Richie Frahm, shot 8-for-16 from behind the arc against Louisville.

Frahm, one of four seniors, hit four 3-pointers and scored 31 points. Matt Santangelo scored 16 and Axel Dench had 14 points, six rebounds and six assists for Gonzaga, which shot 57 percent overall from the field.

The Bulldogs also had a season-high 24 turnovers against Louisville, and anything close to that could be suicide against the Red Storm.

"If we do that, we're going to lose, there's no question about that," Santangelo said Friday. "St. John's is going to make us pay if we turn the ball over that many times. But that was pretty uncharacteristic. We averaged about 14 per game over the year and we've faced pressing teams before, so hopefully last night was kind of first-game jitters and tomorrow we'll come out more focused and take care of the ball better."

PROBABLE STARTERS: Gonzaga - F Frahm (16.8 ppg, 4.2 rpg), F Casey Calvary (13.4 ppg, 6.4 rpg), C Dench (9.1 ppg, 4.9 rpg), G Ryan Floyd (5.6 ppg, 1.8 apg), G Santangelo (12.8 ppg, 6.6 apg). St. John's - F Postell (14.6 ppg, 6.8 rpg), F Reggie Jessie (9.0 ppg, 5.7 rpg), C Anthony Glover (9.9 ppg, 5.3 rpg), G Thornton (15.2 ppg, 2.8 apg), G Barkley (16.2 ppg, 4.7 apg).

HOW THEY GOT HERE: Gonzaga - Automatic bid, West Coast Conference tournament champion, defeated Louisville in first round, 77-66. St. John's - Automatic bid, Big East tournament champion, defeated Northern Arizona in first round, 61-56.

ALL-TIME TOURNAMENT RECORD: Gonzaga - 4-2, 3 appearances. St. John's - 27-27, 26 appearances.


 

 

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