Battle Of Bulldogs To Take Place In Los Angeles

Dec. 6, 2001

While few teams are daring enough to schedule a trip to Gonzaga, the small Jesuit school has gained some respect for three straight trips to the regional semifinals of the NCAA tournament.

No longer content to schedule true road games without a reward, the West Coast Conference powerhouse will play Fresno State at the Greater Western Forum in Los Angeles on Thursday as part of a doubleheader with Southern Cal and Pepperdine.

Very few large-conference teams are willing to make the trip to Spokane, Wash., and play at the 3,000-seat arena known as "The Kennel," leaving the Bulldogs (6-2) few options in terms of scheduling quality opponents to bolster their NCAA tournament chances for an at-large bid in case they do not capture the West Coast Conference tournament.

This season, Gonzaga helped its cause by defeating St. John's and Texas en route to the championship game of the Great Alaska Shootout. It also played at Illinois and still has non-conference road games at Washington, St. Joseph's and New Mexico before West Coast play starts.

Mark Few's team has won four straight games and rallied for an 84-74 overtime victory over Eastern Washington on Tuesday. Dan Dickau scored 22 points for Gonzaga, which erased a 16-point deficit, sank 12-of-13 free throws in the overtime and extended its home winning streak to 17 games.

Fresno State (7-1) welcomed back center Melvin Ely to the lineup in Tuesday's 75-65 win over San Francisco. Ely, who missed two games because the NCAA investigated allegations of his receiving an improper benefit, had 22 points, seven rebounds and three blocked shots for Fresno State.

The 6-foot-10 pivot learned only hours before the game he was cleared to play, but Fresno State did not miss his presence in easy home victories in the McCaffrey Classic over the weekend.

"When I heard today at the shootaround, I couldn't stop smiling," said Ely. "I'm just happy to be here. That's all I have to say."

Chris Jefferies added 18 points and seven assists as Fresno State totaled 20 assists against just four turnovers.

Gonzaga has a 2-1 lead in the all-time series, but Fresno State posted a 77-76 victory in the last game in 1991.



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