Zags take it to Huskies

While it was below freezing outside, inside the McCarthey Athletic Center had a feeling of March. In an intense intrastate matchup that saw both teams score at will, the Gonzaga Bulldogs used their home-court advantage, bigs inside, a solid touch from the line and some hot shooting by Derek Raivio and Adam Morrison to propel them to a 99-87 win over #14 Washington Wednesday.

The win by the Bulldogs gives them a seven-game winning streak in the series, although the Huskies have a 28-13 career edge. Gonzaga, who outrebounded Washington 36-29, appeared bound and determined to bounce back from a weekend loss to Illinois that saw them down by over 30 at the half.

"I'm not one of those coaches that says I'm glad we lost so we can learn something," Washington Head Coach Lorenzo Romar said after the game. "But since we lost, I hope we learn something. We just got beat, plain and simple. They did a tremendous job. We've got to do a better job on the defensive end. Tonight we didn't really make them work for their points."

This was Washington's first true road test, and they were not able to withstand a 60-point second half by the Bulldogs, spurred on by Raivio's hot touch and four players in double-digit scoring.

Every time the Huskies would make a charge during the second half, the Bulldogs cooly responded with clutch shooting from the charity stripe, going 22-23 for the second halfand 27-33 overall. Conversely, every time Washington went to the line late, their touch abandoned them.

The move from 'The Kennel' to the McCarthey Center has been a good one for the Bulldogs, who packed the rafters with 6,000 rabid fans - the majority of them wearing red.

"I thought it was louder in here," Romar said. "I didn't think that could be the case."

The Gonzaga student section - which took up one whole side of the arena from baseline to baseline - focused their pre-game ire on Huskies forward Mike Jensen, with chants of 'Beers on Jensen' and 'Go big white guy'. There was also a 'Convicted Beer Thief' sign that popped up from time to time.

Jensen didn't fare too well in the early stretches of the game, scoring his only two points from the foul line and missing his three attempts from the field, but the second half was a different story. He hit 4-7 from the field, including 2 3-pointers to keep Washington in the thick of things. He finished the game with 13 points.

"I'm used to it everywhere I go," Jensen said afterwards when asked about the taunts. "I know some kids from my childhood that go to this school and they always try to get on me. Coach just told me to keep shooting, so that's what I did."

Jamaal Williams and Will Conroy were more than happy to pick up the slack. The senior point guard from Garfield put in all three of his shots from behind the 3-point line and Williams, the junior transfer from New Mexico, provided an inside presence. His 11 points led the way for Washington in the first half. Conroy and Williams ended up with 18 and 14, respectively, for the game.

The Bulldogs shot to an early 10-point lead, but threes by Conroy and Nate Robinson, as well as two Robinson free throws on a Gonzaga team technical foul, brought the Dawgs back to 35-33. The Bulldogs took a 39-38 lead into intermission.

"They did a good job of getting us in foul trouble early, and when that happens you sometimes get a bit tentative," Romar said.

The second half looked like it was going to be the 'Nate and Adam show', referring to spurts of action where the Bulldogs' Morrison would throw down a jam or make a three, countered by a Robinson high-flying dunk or three.

"He has learned not to force the action as much," Romar said of Robinson, who had 15 of his game-high 22 in the second half on 6-8 shooting. Besides Robinson, Williams and Conroy, Bobby Jones chipped in 12

The turning point came with 6:37, after a Robinson 3-ball brought the Huskies to within one at 78-77. Morrison and Raivio turned on the jets, scoring seven unanswered points to give the Bulldogs a lead that would never be seriously threatened. Eight free throws later by Ronny Turiaf and Sean Mallon, and that was it for the Huskies.

Morrison led the Bulldogs with 26 points, followed closely by Turiaf, who had a quiet 23 points. The big 6-10 center for Gonzaga, was the object of Washington's defensive focus all game. His passing and 13 rebounds proved to be as valuable as his points. Raivio had 21 and Mallon added 16 points in a winning effort.

"There was a lot of intensity tonight, but outside of our first game against Seattle Pacific, all the games have been that type of competitive game," Romar said. "It's unbelievable for this early in the year that we've played that many competitive, intense games.

"I don't know if we responded as well as we should have for our first road game," he added. "But you have to give their crowd a lot of credit and their team a lot of credit. But we need to go through these experiences and learn from them."


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