Huskies Stepp in it

Led by seniors Blake Stepp and Cory Violette, the No. 17-ranked Gonzaga Bulldogs stormed into Hec Edmundson Pavilion Wednesday night and proved yet again that the University of Washington is no match, out-shooting and out-defending the Huskies in front of a sellout crowd of 10,000 for a 86-62 victory.

It was the sixth-straight win by the Bulldogs over the Huskies, who lost their first game of the season and fell to 3-1. Washington's last win in the series came in 1998.

"All the talk, all the hoopla about the Zags – it's true," said Husky coach Lorenzo Romar after the game. "They are like a machine."

Staying calm and poised when the Huskies ran out to an eight-point first-half lead, the Bulldogs turned up the pressure, rotating between a 3-2 and 1-3-1 zone defense, and Washington never made the proper adjustments.

When Husky sophomore swingman Bobby Jones sunk a 17-foot baseline jumper with 7:47 in the first half, all appeared well for the home team. Nobody could foresee what transpired over the next 15 minutes and 2 seconds, as Washington was held without a field goal during that stretch and could only watch as the Bulldogs pulled away for good.

By the time Curtis Allen drained a 12-foot leaner 8:18 into the second half, Gonzaga had forged a 62-40 advantage and effectively stomped on the Husky spirit.

"It was like there was a lid on the basket," said Allen of the 0-20 drought. "We shot a lot of jumpers and missed a lot of shots. We just couldn't figure out that zone."

Coach Romar saw it another way.

"The ball wouldn't go down for us and mentally I don't think we are at the point where we could get through that against a team like Gonzaga," said Romar.

UW shot a miserable 31 percent (19-61) from the field and faired little better from the free throw line. Despite getting to the charity stripe 35 times, 11 more times than the visitors from Spokane, the Huskies converted a mere 18 times (51 percent).

The Bulldogs hit 17 of their 24 attempts from the free throw line.

Adding to the Huskies' troubles was the ability of the Gonzaga big men to get inside for easy looks at the basket all night long. Led by the post presence of Violette and junior Ronny Turiaf, the Bulldogs (4-1) shot a torrid 61 percent from the field.

"I knew that they were a dominant team in the paint, but I didn't expect them to be that dominant tonight," said Romar.

Four Bulldogs finished in double-digit scoring, led by the 15 of Violette and 14 from both Stepp and another senior, Tony Skinner. Turiaf added 12.

"We were patient and we got the ball where we needed to get the ball," said Bulldogs' coach Mark Few. "We didn't want to come into here and take the first available shot. We did that against St. Joseph's and we had a little trouble with that."

Washington stayed close through the first eight minutes of the game behind hot shooting from beyond the three-point arc. All that did was mask the Huskies inefficiency from inside the arc, where they started the game 5-13 in the opening minutes.

Eventually, the percentages paid off for Gonzaga as the perimeter shots stopped falling for the Huskies.

Washington was a dreadful 6-26 from three-point land.

"I thought we did a good job in a true road environment and did a good job of sticking together and really staying with what works for us," said Few.

The Huskies were led by Will Conroy's 15 points. Brandon Roy, who had a hot stretch in the first half, scored just three after halftime and finished with 13.

Washington was outrebounded 48-26, with forwards Mike Jensen and Hakeem Rollins accounting for just two rebounds apiece in 31 minutes. Richard Fox of Gonzaga had 14 in 21 minutes.

Game Notes:
Buzzed: Washington big men Anthony Washington and Hakeem Rollins each shaved their heads prior to the game.

Celebrity Sighting:Lenny Wilkins, the all-time winningest coach in National Basketball Association history, worked the game alongside Rich Waltz for the Fox Sports telecast.

Knight Homecoming: Former Husky and current Bulldog Erroll Knight made his return to Seattle, two seasons after transferring to Gonzaga. Knight was showered mostly with boos when he checked into the game, and played a limited role. He finished with 3 points in 6 minutes.

Simmons Hurt: Husky junior swingman Tre Simmons took and elbow to the head with 48 seconds left in the game and left the court with blood dripping all over the floor. The injury was reminiscent of the injury Chris Walcott sustained in 1998 under the same basket at the East end of the arena.

Up Next: The Huskies hit the road for the first time this season and won't return home until Dec. 30. First stop on the trip is in Laramie, Wyoming, where they will face the University of Wyoming on Dec. 6. Tipoff is set for 3 p.m. They continue with games at Houston on Dec. 20 and at San Diego St. on Dec. 27. Both are 7 p.m. scheduled tipoffs.

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