Bulldogs Battle Texas Tech In Semifinals
Nov. 23, 2007
Game No. 5 - Texas Tech
Friday, November 23 - 9 p.m. PST
Great Alaska Shootout Semifinals
Sullivan Arena - Anchorage, AK
Radio: News Talk 1510 KGA (Spokane)
Pre-game show 30 minutes prior to tipoff
TV: ESPN360 (Internet Subscription)
No. 14 GONZAGA UNIVERSITY BULLDOGS (4-0; 0-0 West Coast) G - 2 Jeremy Pargo, 6-2, 219, Jr., Chicago, IL (14.0 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 3.8 assists, 0.3 steals, 0.3 blocks) G - 15 Matt Bouldin, 6-5, 214, So., Highlands Ranch, CO (12.3 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 2.8 assists, 0.8 steals) G - 22 Micah Downs, 6-8, 190, Jr., Kirkland, WA (8.5 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 1.5 assists, 2.3 steals) F - 25 David Pendergraft, 6-6, 223, Sr., Brewster, WA (6.5 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 1.0 assists, 0.5 steals) F - 31 Abdullahi Kuso, 6-9, 241, Sr., Kaduna, Nigeria (8.3 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 0.3 assists, 0.8 steals, 1.3 blocks) HEAD COACH: Mark Few (University of Oregon, 1987) GONZAGA RECORD: 215-52 (9th year - 19th at GU) CAREER RECORD: Same
Matt Bouldin scored 18 points and David Pendergraft converted a pair of layups in the final minutes to help 14th-ranked Gonzaga avoid the upset with a 74-71 win over Western Kentucky in the first round of the Carrs/Safeway Great Alaska Shootout on Thursday. The Bulldogs, who also got 14 points from guard Micah Downs, fought back from a 7-point second-half deficit to advance to Friday's late semifinal against Bob Knight and Texas Tech. Senior All-America candidate Courtney Lee scored a game-high 19 points for WKU (3-1), but the Hilltoppers were hurt by 8-of-17 free throw shooting, plus foul trouble up and down the lineup. The game featured nine ties and six lead changes, including an 8-0 run by WKU to start the second half that gave the Sun Belt Conference team a 42-36 lead. The Hilltoppers forged their largest advantage at 45-38 with 16:20 to play when point guard Tyrone Brazelton nailed a three-pointer. Gonzaga fought back to tie it at 60-60 on a pair of free throws by Jeremy Pargo, and the game was tied at 66-66 after WKU's A.J. Slaughter (13 points, 6-11 FG) nailed a layup with 4:20 left. The Zags took the lead for good on the ensuing possession when Pendergraft - the team's senior leader - made a back-door cut and converted Bouldin's pass into a layup. Pendergraft hit another layin a minute later to stretch it to 70-66.
Friday's semifinal matchup between Gonzaga University and Texas Tech will be a re-match of a 2005 NCAA Tournament Second Round game played in Tucson, Ariz. The Red Raiders ended Gonzaga's season 71-69 that day, sixth-seed Texas Tech rallying from a 13-point second-half deficit to upend third-seeded Gonzaga. The Bulldogs scored the first four points of the second half for a 42-29 advantage. The Red Raiders took the lead at 68-67 with 1:06 to play.
Gonzaga University senior David Pendergraft is the lone member of this year's Bulldog squad who played against Texas Tech in 2005, seeing just one minute of action with no statistics. Two members of this year's Texas Tech team played in the NCAA meeting. Zeno Martin had 11 points, 4 rebounds and 5 assists in 35 minutes, and Damir Suljagic had a pair of rebounds and an assist in his five minutes.
The Great Alaska Shootout has multiple ESPN entities televising games. Gonzaga University's game Friday with Texas Tech will be televised on ESPN360 which is available by internet subscription only. Saturday's championship game will be televised on ESPN2 and the consolation final will air on ESPN360.
Gonzaga University is 14th in both of the major polls for the third straight week. The Bulldogs garnered 834 points in the Associated Press Top 25, and 342 in the USA Today/ESPN balloting. Gonzaga returned to the preseason poll for the first time since 2005 when the Bulldogs were 7th in the ESPN/USA TODAY balloting and 8th in the AP voting. The Bulldogs got as high as 16th in the ESPN/USA TODAY poll and as high as 18th in the AP balloting last year. Gonzaga fell out of both polls on Christmas Day last year and never climbed back in to the Top 25 in a 23-11 season that included a ninth-straight appearance in the NCAA Tournament. The University of North Carolina edged UCLA for the top spot in both polls.
Three teams on the Gonzaga University schedule remain ranked in the Top 10 of both polls again this week. The Bulldogs will travel to No. 3 University of Memphis Jan. 25, play No. 7 University of Tennessee in The Battle in Seattle Dec. 29 and host 9th-ranked Washington State University Dec. 5 in the McCarthey Athletic Center. Butler University, in the other half of the bracket of the Great Alaska Shootout, is ranked 22nd in AP and 23rd by the coaches. Gonzaga and Butler could meet on the final day of the Great Alaska Shootout this Saturday.
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 42-1 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.
Three Gonzaga University starters are shooting better than 50 percent from the field. Abdullahi Kuso is 12-for-19 from the field for 63.2 percent, David Pendergraft is 10-for-10 fro 52.6 percent and Jeremy Pargo is 24-for-47 for 51.1 percent. Plus, two freshmen off the bench are shooting the lights out - Robert Sacre going 8-for-11 for 72.,7 percent and Austin Daye 19-for-34 for 55.9 percent. As a team Gonzaga is 52.3 percent (114-218).
Junior Josh Heytvelt and freshman Steven Gray have had their seasons interrupted by surgery. Heytvelt, who has been fighting a stress fracture in his right ankle all fall, underwent surgery Nov. 12 to insert screws into the ankle. Gray, who suffered a fractured wrist Nov. 7 in an exhibition game against Emporia State University, underwent surgery Nov. 14 to insert a pin in the wrist. In both cases, the surgery is expected to speed up the healing process rather than just casting both Heytvelt's ankle and Gray's wrist and letting time heal the injuries.
Freshman Robert Sacre, who played seven minutes in his collegiate debut in the season opener against the University of Montana after picking up three quick fouls, has settled down to make some big contributions in recent games. He has played 16 minutes in each of the last three games, and was a factor down the stretch against Western Kentucky University after Abdullahi Kuso fouled out. Sacre is averaging 5.5 ppg and 2.3 rpg. He scored 12 points against UC Riverside while going 5-for-5 from the field, and he has grabbed 3 rebounds in each of the last three games.
There might be some magic in that No. 5 jersey freshman Austin Daye is wearing - especially when it comes to the free throw line. Daye is 23-for-27 for 85.2 percent from the stripe through the first four games. Derek Raivio, who wore No. 5 throughout his Gonzaga career, is one of the most prolific free throw shooters in NCAA history. He finished his career hitting 92.7 percent from the line and holds the top three single-season percentage marks in school history. Raivio went 148-for-154 for 96.1 percent to lead the NCAA Division I ranks in percentage a year ago and ranks second all-time on the NCAA single-season list. For his career he went 343-for-370 for 92.7 percent to rank second in the NCAA based on a minimum of 300 free throws made and 2.5 free throws made/game.
Gonzaga University has extended its streak of consecutive games with a 3-pointer to 462. The last time the Bulldogs failed to hit a trey was Jan. 27, 1993, going 0-for-5 at home against Portland. UNLV holds the all-time streak of 668 entering this season.
Gonzaga University saw Western Kentucky University have the best offensive night against the Bulldogs of any opponent this season. Gonzaga had held its last two opponents under 50 and saw the University of Montana score just 54 in the season opener. The Hilltoppers shot 43.8 percent from the field Thursday night, the first team to shoot better than 37.7 against the Bulldogs this season. Opponents are shooting just 36.1 percent from the field this season.
Gonzaga University juniors Jeremy Pargo and Josh Heytvelt have been named to the preseason watch lists for a pair of prestigious All-American men's basketball honors. Pargo, a native of Chicago, Ill., is one of 50 players named to the John R. Wooden Award as selected by the Los Angeles Athletic Club's Wooden Award Committee. Heytvelt, who hails from Clarkston, Wash., was named one of 50 preseason candidates for the Naismith Trophy as selected by the Atlanta Tipoff Club. Pargo becomes the eighth Bulldog selected as a Wooden candidate. Adam Morrison was a 2006 John R. Wooden Top Five All-America selection, Dan Dickau was so honored in 2002 as Gonzaga's inaugural Wooden Award Top Five honoree, and Blake Stepp (2004) and Casey Calvary (2001) were named Wooden Award Top 10 All-Americans. Heytvelt is the second Bulldog in three years under consideration for the Naismith. Morrison was one of the five finalists in 2006.
Gonzaga University men's basketball coach Mark Few added three players to his charges for the 2008-09 season with the signing of three players to letters-of-intent. Andy Poling, 6-11, 30-pound forward from Westview High in Portland, Ore.; Grant Gibbs, 6-5, 190-pound guard from Linn-Mar High in Marion, Iowa, and Demetri Goodson, 6-0, 175-pound guard from Klein Collins High in Spring, Texas, outside of Houston, made their intentions official to become Bulldogs on the first day of national letter-of-intent signing day. All three had previously made verbal commitments. Poling averaged 13.9 ppg last season to rank fifth in the Metro League in scoring while leading the Wildcats to a 21-8 overall record and 8-2 second-place Metro League finish. He was named honorable mention All-State 6A in Westview's first season in the newly-created State 6A classification. He was also voted first-team All-Metro League for the Wildcats, ranked seventh in the state heading into the State 6A Tournament where they lost their first two games. Poling was rated one of the 20 best centers in the country by one scouring service. Gibbs averaged 15.0 ppg, 5.0 assists and 5.0 rpg as Linn-Mar captured the Iowa State 4A title last spring. He had 10 points, 8 rebounds and 3 assists in the quarterfinal win over Sioux City North; 20 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists and 7 steals in the semifinal victory over Urbandale, and scored 15 points, grabbed 8 rebounds, and had a pair of assists and steals in the title game against Bettendorf to cap a 24-1 season. He finished third in tournament scoring with 45 points and tied for fourth with 21 rebounds in earning All-Tournament honors. Goodson helped lead Klein Collins to the Region 2 title game last season while averaging 16.0 ppg, 5.0 rpg and 7.0 assists/game. He was an All-State 5A selection, the largest classification in Texas. Goodson was rated as high as the 135th best player in the country by one scouting service.
Gonzaga University edged Saint Mary's College as the favorite to capture their eighth consecutive regular-season West Coast Conference crown in the 2007-08 WCC men's basketball coaches' pre-season poll. The Zags tallied 61 points and received five first-place votes. Just two points behind Gonzaga is Saint Mary's with 59 overall points and the other three first-place votes.
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