Finally, Bulldogs blow out Eagles

Before a soldout crowd of 12,299 in the Spokane Arena, Gonzaga celebrated New Year's Eve by hammering the Eastern Washington Eagles. After two nailbiters in previous years, the Zags took care of business early in 2003 to up record to 9-2.

When Kyle Bankhead intercepted an outlet pass off a missed trey by Adam Morrison and layed it in as the 1st-half buzzer sounded, it was obvious that this annual Eeagles-Zags game was not about to be the dramatic game of the past two years. Kyle's surprising steal/layup (all in one motion) put Gonzaga up by 20, 41-21.

For all intents and purposes, this game was history.

Gonzaga outplayed the undermanned Eags in all respects, including stifling Eastern to under 30% shooting from the field. The Zags shot nearly 50%. Led by the 15 points of Ronny Turiaf and Adam Morrison, Gonzaga also got steady efforts from Blake Stepp (14 pts, 6 asts), Cory Violette and Erroll Knight (top rebounder with 9).

Cory Violette and Matt Nelson race to the loose ball.

However, it was a sloppily played game instead of the polished performance against WSU just three days before.

The lowlights: Starting wing Tony Skinner broke his right hand early in the game and he could be out of action until March. Richard Fox tweaked an already pesky knee and will be evaluated, but he "should" return soon. The Zags, as a team, did not seem to take a step forward from the WSU win.

The higlights: Erroll Knight's defense, particularly on Alvin Snow, was nothing short of brilliant. Adam Morrison had an off-night and still was high scorer with 15. All three freshmen played well. Blake Stepp ran the team like a general. And GU's bigs ruled the paint once more. The Zags' defense limited Eastern to under 30%, their second sub 30% defensive game in a row.

The 16-ranked Bulldogs are now 9-2.

Gonzaga's next game is Sunday, January 4, in The Kennel against Montana. It's a 5:00pm tipoff. The Lady Zags play in The Kennel at 1:00pm that same day. If you're a Zag fan, it doesn't get much better.

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