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What a difference a game makes! After squeezing by Portland, the Zags were facing their toughest league competition yet in a San Diego team whose big men, according to Mark Few, were out-playing the Zags' highly regarded interior players. As if that were not enough to give Bulldog fans a case of nerves, the Toreros's boasted some decent long range shooters, and defending the three has not been GU's forte this year. Finally, the last league loss at home was to the Toreros, setting the stage for a potential disaster. Well, it was a disaster all right, but not for Gonzaga. Dominating virtually every facet of the game and getting contributions from a variety of players, Few called off the Dogs with four minutes to go and 85 points on the scoreboard, cruising to an 89-65 thrashing of San Diego that could have been even more one-sided.
It looked like it might not play out the way the raucous sell-out crowd hoped, when San Diego hit an opening 3 pointer, but Tony Skinner got things started with GU's first four points. The game was tight, with Gonzaga taking a small lead as San Diego's Jason Keep got into foul trouble. The 6'11" Keep would sit most of the first half, yet the Toreros came back on three baskets from behind the 3-point arc, taking a five point lead. With San Diego's interior weakened, the Zags frontcourt went to work with the score tied and 7 minutes to go in the first half. Ronny Turiaf, Zach Gourde, and Cory Violette all scored in the paint while Tony Skinner hit a 3 and Winston Brooks nailed a runner. As the final seconds peeled off the clock, freshman Josh Reisman made a nifty move at the wing, launching 3-point swish just before the buzzer. Halftime score: 43-30 Gonzaga.
In so many games this year, the Zags have let teams back into it after taking double-digit leads. With Keep returning to the game after the half, the stage was set for a potential come-back. But the Bulldogs continued to click, and it was Blake Stepp's turn to dominate, scoring 19 points in the second half on 5-for-8 shooting behind the 3 point arc. The lead quickly grew to twenty points at 57-37, eventually reaching 29 points before Gonzaga turned down the heat in the closing minutes. Turiaf led the team with 22 points, hitting 75% from the field and 100% of his four charity attempts. Ronny also led the team with 7 rebounds, closely followed by Blake Stepp and Cory Violette with six boards apiece. Gonzaga once more dominated the glass, 38 to 30. Violette scored 12 points and Brooks contributed 9 points and led the team with five assists. The Toreros were paced by Keep's 16 points and 6 rebounds, but were hindered when he could only manage to connect on 4 out of 11 free throw attempts.
Saturday the men take on Santa Clara in the Kennel. The Broncos were handed a big loss in Portland last night, 72-47. Meanwhile, the Gonzaga women chalked up their fourth win in a row as they defeated San Diego on the road, 67-58, to solidify their third place WCC standing at 4-2. Tonight the Lady Zags face Santa Clara, playing for a share of second place in the league.
Gonzaga fans are asked to "Color the Kennel Blue" for the GU-SCU game by wearing blue.