29, 19 and 13 points per game. That's the scoring line for Gonzaga's three freshmen, pushed into duty as Tony Skinner, Ronny Turiaf and Erroll Knight nurse injuries. Adam Morrison led the way with 29, scoring in a variety of ways, and pulling down 9 boards for a near double-double. Redshirt freshman Sean Mallon came on strong as the game wore on to score 19 and to record a double-double with 10 rebounds, and began hitting from mid-range and in close, once on a driving one-handed slam down the lane. Derek Raivio showed remarkable ballhandling and a high basketball IQ as he scored 13, dished 5 dimes and ran the team with more poise than a true freshman point guard is expected to.
In the mix of action was senior Cory Violette with a double-double of 18 points and 14 rebounds, the first two on a thundering putback jam off a Mallon miss to open the game.
With three Zags injured and Richard Fox with a sore knee, everybody got to play and The Kennel rocked as Gonzaga steadily pulled away from the outmanned Division II Emporia State Hornets. It was a good start overall for the Zags.
But it was far from ideal and much improvement is needed before the November 14 tip-off against St. Joe's in Madision Square Garden. First, there is the injury problem that has prevented the team from pacticing together as a whole. Second, true for most first games, the play was way too sloppy and hectic, the Zags trying to force plays that just weren't there, resulting in turnovers. And Emporia State did score 71 points, 30 from beyond the arc. The Zags' defense must improve.
Blake Stepp was also in double digits at 10 and a game high 6 assists, but he'd be the first to admit it was a subpar performance by him. With only one week of practice under his belt, perhaps it was a simple case of being rusty.
Gonzaga scored 108 points. The starting lineup was: Blake Stepp, Kyle Bankhead, Adam Morrison, Sean Mallon and Cory Violette.
The next and final exhibition game will be November 8 at 6:00pm in The Kennel. An all-star ensemble known as Northwest Sports will be the opposition. Then 6 days later the highly ranked Bulldogs will play for keeps in New York City.
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