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Leavey Center was packed to the rafters with rabid Santa Clara fans for an ESPN-televised game, but the Zags would come out firing and take the lead. Derek Raivio unveiled his offensive prowess and unloaded for 32 points as his team raced to 15 and 12 point leads, then weather Bronco storms until the final 4 point victory. As expected, it was a wild, physical, emotional game that saw three technicals handed out. Raivio got solid help from Erroll Knight, Adam Morrison and J.P. Batista, and from freshmen David Pendergraft and Pierre-Marie Altidor-Cespedes.
But two nights later St. Mary's would bury a school record 16 three-pointers (most of them by Paul Marigney) and the Gaels would win their biggest game in over a decade by holding off the Bulldogs 89-81. Gonzaga dominated every statistic but three-point shooting in front of an oversold "Paint the Gym Red" crowd where "Beat the Zags" shirts were handed out free to wild and loud Gaels fans who fed their team energy all night. Erroll Knight and Adam Morrison were bright spots for Gonzaga, as was David Pendergraft's splendid play in limited minutes: 7 points in 8 minutes, no misses.
Meanwhile, back on the Gonzaga campus, Head Coach Kelly Graves was accomplishing something very special. Not only were his ladies steamrolling their first two WCC schools to go 2-0 in the young season.
Fueled by outstanding efforts from the seniors Ashley Burke, Shannon Mathews, Raeanna Jewell and Delphine LeCoultre to junior Anne Bailey to young Zags Stephanie Hawk, Dominique Harris, Katy Ridenour and Rachel Kane, the ladies thoroughly dominated Santa Clara's women. 10 three-pointers and a huge assist number helped GU's offensive efficiency. But it wasn't just offense:
"We put together a full game on both ends of the court," said head coach Kelly Graves as he moved to within one win of tying for the most wins by a Gonzaga coach. "It was a great way to start the conference play. We did a good job on defense as were able to shut down a Santa Clara team that was on a little bit of roll entering league play."
Two days later the same cast of characters would put a 24 point hurting on St. Mary's, and ultimately give their coach 65 wins, tied for the most wins ever by a women's coach at GU.
"I'm excited about picking up this win," said head coach Kelly Graves after guiding the Bulldogs to second straight year of a 2-0 start to league play. "We played at their tempo in the first half and they beat us on the offensive glass. In the second half we were able to do a better job on the boards and only turned the ball over two times to take control of the game. It's always nice to pick up a win, even when you think your team didn't have its best game going."
It was the 9th straight win by the Lady Zags who go on the road to LMU and Pepperdine January 13 and 15.