Which Bulldog has the bigger bite? That was the question Sunday afternoon when the Gonzaga Bulldogs took on the Georgia Bulldogs. After a toothless first half, Gonzaga ran out of time as Georgia prevailed 95-83.
Gonzaga hoped to gain an RPI booster by beating a strong opponent in the University of Georgia. The two teams were basically opposites. Gonzaga boasted one of the top frontcourts in the country and expected to out-muscle and out-rebound the smaller, guard-orientated Georgia Bulldogs, who didn't have a player over 6'8". The height advantage appeared to be helping the Zags in the opening minutes; Cory Violette and Richard Fox were having their way inside.
However, that wouldn't last long. Georgia's guards began lighting up Gonzaga, scoring several three-point daggers, while Gonzaga was having a hard time finding the rim. Georgia would go on to a 12-2 run to pull away from an early Gonzaga lead. Kyle Bankhead's "2-pointer" was about the only bright spot throughout the rest of the half. The Georgia Bulldogs were out-rebounding our bigs, tipping-in multiple baskets, and stealing sloppy passes by the Zags. Gonzaga appeared flat footed and allowed Georgia to make things quite embarrassing. The score at halftime clearly showed the difference in the level of play between the two teams: Georgia 50 - Gonzaga 28.
Jarvis Hayes drives past Blake Stepp
After what must have been a very "motivating" speech by Coach Few during intermission, Gonzaga came out to play. Two dunks, one by Violette and the other by Tony Skinner, energized the Zags and gave fans an optimistic feeling. GU pressed and played inspired defense to create key Georgia turnovers for baskets. The four bigs chipped away at the lead, but each basket by the Zags was countered by one at the opposite end to keep Gonzaga at bay. Our guards struggled behind the arc until Kyle Bankhead sank three consecutive three-pointers to slice the lead to 11 with 7 minutes left to play. However, Georgia would continue to make baskets and never allow their lead to slip. Gonzaga would finally cut the lead to under double-digits with two huge three-point baskets by Skinner with about 2:30 minutes remaining. Thanks to more superb free-throw shooting by Ronny Turiaf, Gonzaga would trim the lead to as little as 7 points. However, just like in games past (i.e. Indiana, Kentucky) time would turn against GU and make a miracle win nearly impossible. With a minute left, the Zags chose not to foul Georgia and allowed them to get several dunks to cap off the win.
Despite a valiant comeback by Gonzaga, the other Bulldogs prevailed. What killed the Zags the most was their rebounding. Georgia out-rebounded the Zags by 14 boards and would score 21 second-chance points compared to Gonzaga's 6. Gonzaga will have the chance to redeem themselves Tuesday, when they take on a very good NC State team.