Gonzaga too much for Washington

Down 20 points with just under two minutes remaining, the Huskies used 25 seconds passing the ball around while three-feet beyond the three point circle before Josh Barnard fired up a shot from the baseline that entirely cleared the back-iron. That's a microcosm of the way tonight's game went for the University of Washington.

In Washington's most important game in the last three seasons - and one that could have given the hoops program some much-needed momentum with a win - the Huskies were trampled by the visiting Gonzaga Bulldogs 67-47 Tuesday night at Hec Edmundson Pavilion in front of a sold-out crowd of 10,000.

Gonzaga (8-2) came into the game ranked No. 25 in the country, and showed why with a well-executed gameplan that had Washington scrambling to put points on the board all night long. With the Huskies being the more athletic team, the Bulldogs used a tightly-packed defensive zone that forced Washington to play back at the perimeter, taking away the up-tempo game they would've like to run.

It worked to perfection.

In a 12-minute span covering the end of the first half to the beginning of the second half, Washington was stymied on offense and scored just four points. That allowed Gonzaga to race out to a 43-28 lead. The closest the Huskies would come to getting back in the game is eight, but a clutch three-pointer by guard Blake Stepp with 8:37 remaining put the lead back up to 11 and the Huskies would never threaten again.

"They slowed our pace down," said Washington point guard Curtis Allen, who finished the game just 3-10 from the field. "We're an athletic team and their zone contained that."

Limited to long-range shots, Washington couldn't find their rhythm and finished a miserable 28 percent from the field by the game's end. Doug Wrenn, the team's leading scorer coming into the game, endured the worse shooting night of his young Husky career with a 4-19 performance. The Bulldog's zone defense made it tough for the redshirt sophomore to find open shots, but even when he was given a free look at the basket his attempts rarely went through the net.

"The zone defense was effective because we were missing shots," Washington Head Coach Bob Bender explained. "We took some early shots and the whole beauty of the zone is that if you take quick shots, that is exactly what the zone wants you to do. It was very effective and we simply didn't help ourselves when they went to it because we were a little impatient. We didn't attack, we simply passed it around the perimeter and were willing to shoot a jump shot."

Gonzaga took advantage of the terrible Husky shooting, outrebounding the home team 50-35.

Looking down in the dumps after the game, Wrenn credited both his and the team's poor shooting night on simply coming out and playing with too much energy.

"Tonight we came out playing off of adrenaline," he said. "When you do that everything tightens up."

Wrenn finished with just nine points to lead the team along with Grant Leep, as no Huskies finished in double-figures scoring.

While the Huskies contained the outside threat of Dan Dickau, the former point guard at Washington who transferred to the small Spokane school following the 1998-99 season, they had no answers for the combination of forward/centers Zach Gourde and Cory Violette. Each listed at 6-8, the duo play more like seven-footers, and tonight manhandled the Husky front line trio of David Dixon, Grant Leep, and Jeffrey Day. Violette finished with a game-high 18 while Gourde chipped in 13, almost all of the points coming inside the paint.

Dickau had just eight points for the contest, shooting a cool 3-11 from the field in 25 minutes of play. It marked the first time that Dickau has been held under 10 points in the last 24 games, dating back to Gonzaga's game against Santa Clara a year ago.

Washingon (6-3) battled early in the game, keeping it even for the first 10 minutes of play.

While Gonzaga limited the inside presence of the 6-11 Dixon, the Huskies went to the perimeter to nail three treys in the first five minutes, one apiece from Allen, Wrenn, and Leep. Meanwhile, the Bulldogs went to the paint to get the bulk of their points. The sophomore Violette scored six early points on three shots within eight feet of the bucket to key the attack.

Washington took the lead at 15-13 on a slick dribble drive by Allen, who switched from his right to left hand to lay in a leaner. But Gonzaga answered immediately at the other end with a thunderous dunk by Alex Hernandez. Dixon picked up his second personal foul on an illegal screen at the offensive end of the quarter, and with him on the bench the Huskies had no answers for Gonzaga's big men in the post.

Bender, already shorthanded with freshman forward Mike Jensen lost for the season to a torn labrum, then had to rely on Leep and freshman Jeffrey Day to log big minutes in the middle. Gourde proved to be too much for Leep to handle defensively, hitting four easy shots over the senior from Mt. Vernon.

While Bender continued to juggle his lineup with Day and Leep, and eventually also bringing Dixon back in to stop the bleeding, the visitors from Spokane erupted. The Huskies were within one at 22-23 on a driving layin by Allen, but Gonzaga then went on a 12-2 run in a five-minute span at the end of the half to make it 24-35. A rebound put-back by CJ Massingale drew the Huskies to within nine as the teams headed into halftime.


Game Notes:

Up Next: The Huskies don't play again until Dec. 20th for a 7:30 p.m tip-off against UCLA at Hec Ed. Then the team will have a week off before facing USC at home on Dec. 27th for another 7:30 p.m. tip-off.

Dickau Booed: In his first formal return to his old arena, Gonzaga senior Dan Dickau was booed by the majority of the Husky fans in attendance. Apparently they don't remember him nailing those three-pointers in the NCAA tournament as a true freshman back in March of 1998. Or maybe they do, and that's why they were booing - knowing he's doing it now as a Bulldog.

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