Gonzaga pounds the Waves, 92-72

It was a Sea of Gonzaga Red in The Kennel for Round 1 of the Gonzaga-Pepperdine rivalry series and the Zags put together a fine 40 minutes for the home crowd with Blake, Cory, Richard, Josh, Zach, Tony and Ronny leading a balanced attack.

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In a demonstration of Zagball, Gonzaga laid a 20 point pasting on Pepperdine in the Kennel Sunday afternoon. The first half saw a frustrated Waves squad fall behind 28 to 50. The Zags, in the meantime, hustled after every loose ball, made good decisions on the offensive end, and swarmed after rebounds. The deficit was too much for Pepperdine to overcome despite better play after the half.

The game began with GU pounding the ball into Richard Fox, who scored the team's early points. Pepperdine responded by running a three-man weave at the top of the key as Gonzaga sat back in a zone. The athletic Pepperdine players appeared to believe they could control the game using their one-on-one skills, but they soon discovered that Gonzaga understood help-defense principles, rarely allowing the Waves an uncontested shot anywhere near the paint.

In an apparent effort to disrupt Gonzaga's offense, Westphal assigned 6'6" Jimmy Miggins the task of covering point guard Winston Brooks. Winston sent a message to the Waves on a coast-to-coast lay-in that challenged Pepperdine's defenders and signaled that Gonzaga had come to play. The breakout to Bulldog dominance came on a Blake Stepp pass to Ronny Turiaf for a lay-up plus the foul. Threes by Josh Reisman and Tony Skinner bumped the Zags' lead to 30-17. Reisman played especially well in the half, throwing a lob to Skinner for the tip and finishing a break with a clever lay-in over a Pepperdine defender who had to be 6" taller than the 6' Reisman. Cory Violette scored on three dunks and a rare trey and collected six rebounds in the first half alone. Coach Few substituted liberally and the lead continued to grow, regardless of the line-up. At intermission, the Zags held an impressive 50-28 lead.

The second half began the way the first finished. Stepp and Kyle Bankhead hit threes and the Bulldogs built their lead eventually to 28 points at the 14-minute mark. Pepperdine, however, began to find themselves, hitting some outside buckets, and dishing interior passes to teammates as the Bulldogs continued to help out when the Waves penetrated off the dribble. But solid free-throw work by Ronny Turiaf and Blake Stepp ensured a Gonzaga victory. Ronny hit 7 for 7 from the line. The only down-side of the second half came when Tony Skinner collapsed to the floor in pain. Tony played very well, scoring 13 points, despite suffering with a migraine all week. Stepp and Violette both contributed double-doubles; Blake's accounted for with 16 points and 10 assists, while Cory ripped down 10 rebounds to accompany his team-leading 17 points. In all, five Zags scored in double digits, but the difference in the game was scoring off the bench where Gonzaga held a 38 to 15 advantage and rebounding where GU won the battle of the boards by 13.

Next week, the Bulldogs travel to the Bay area to meet the St. Mary's Gaels and the San Francisco Dons.

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