Classic Gonzaga - Bulldogs Stand On Top Of The World
April 20, 2005
Classic Gonzaga is a new feature on GoZags.com which looks back at some of the highlights in Gonzaga Athletic History. Every couple of weeks a new Classic Gonzaga piece will be placed on the GoZags.com site. Click here for archived Classic Gonzaga.
About as far north as you can play a college basketball game in the United States, the 1997-98 Gonzaga Bulldogs made sure people remembered their names as they stunned No. 5 Clemson University to win the Top of the World Classic in Fairbanks, Alaska.
Gonzaga opened tournament play with a defensive clinic against Tulsa University as the Bulldogs limited the Golden Hurricanes to just 10 first-half points en route to a 78-40 victory. Gonzaga held Tulsa to just 19 percent shooting in the first half as they jumped out to a 34-10 halftime lead. Richie Frahm knocked down 24 points shooting 5-for-8 from 3-point range.
A battle of the Bulldogs followed in the second round as Gonzaga matched-up against Mississippi State University and future NBA draft pick, center Tyrone Washington. Washington was limited to 11 points while pulling down 14 rebounds, but Gonzaga's balanced scoring attack proved to be the difference in a 70-68 win. Four Gonzaga players scored in double-figures led by Matt Santangelo's 15. Axel Dench and Mike Leasure finished with 13 while Bakari Hendrix added 10.
Led by future Denver Nuggets star Greg Buckner, Clemson entered the Top of the World Classic ranked No. 5 in the nation with tournament wins over Iona College and Southwest Missouri State University. The Bulldogs did not blink as they faced one of the best from the Atlantic Coast Conference, Gonzaga leading wire-to-wire to pick up their first win over a Top 10 team. Santangelo scored 19 points shooting 5-of-7 from 3-point range while Quentin Hall came off the bench to score 18 points. Buckner was deadly scoring 19 points for Clemson but it was not enough as Gonzaga won 84-71 to open the season at 4-0.
Santangelo was named the MVP of the Top of the World Classic while Frahm and Dench were both named to the All-Tournament team. Gonzaga would go on to finish the 1998 season 24-10 losing at the University of Hawaii in the second round of the NIT. The Bulldogs won the West Coast Conference regular-season title with a 10-4 record but lost in the WCC Tournament Championship game.
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