This was no way for the Gonzaga Bulldogs to convince the Washington Huskies to return to Spokane. The Huskies were jeered when they arrived...
SPOKANE — This was no way for the Gonzaga Bulldogs to convince the Washington Huskies to return to Spokane someday.
The Huskies were booed off the floor by the home fans before the game, then run off the floor by the home team once it began. Gonzaga bid a not-so-fond adieu to the Washington Huskies with a 97-77 win in front of a raucous crowd of 6,000 at the McCarthey Athletic Center Saturday night.
It was the eighth win in the last nine years for Gonzaga against Washington, and possibly the last for a while, as the Huskies have said they are putting a temporary end to the series for scheduling reasons.
Gonzaga true freshman Matt Bouldin, who scored 21 points in the first start of his career, said the news of the week was a motivating factor for the Bulldogs.
“Some of the stuff we heard about why they’re not playing us … you know, it’s a big rivalry, why wouldn’t they want to do it?” Bouldin said. “Our approach and our focus for this game was just out of control. We were so dialed in to play these guys.”
The Huskies, meanwhile, were calling a wrong number much of the night in what was their first road game of the season and the first ever for the team’s four true freshmen, three of whom started.
“You could see that we weren’t quite ready for this yet,” said Huskies coach Lorenzo Romar. “We wanted to know where we stood against a good team, and we found out.”
Washington, ranked No. 8 in the coaches poll and No. 13 in The Associated Press poll this week, fell to 7-1, while Gonzaga, ranked No. 18 in both polls, improved to 9-2.
The jacked-up Bulldogs took leads of 5-0, 17-9 and 33-18 and never looked back, led by a new-look lineup featuring Bouldin (in place of Pierre Marie Altidor-Cespedes) and David Pendergraft (for Sean Mallon). It was the first change in the Gonzaga lineup this season, coming in the wake of Tuesday’s loss at Washington State, and seemed to ignite the Bulldogs.
“We came out with great energy,” said Gonzaga coach Mark Few. “There was energy in our building and our team responded to it and really played off of it.”
None more so than Raivio, who hit 4 of 5 three-pointers as he scored 17 first-half points, helping Gonzaga to a 56-43 lead at halftime. Raivio finished with a game-high 25 points.
“We have got to do a better job defensively,” Romar said, calling that the team’s main failing. “Defensively, you can’t lose a guy like Derek Raivio. We lost him and didn’t know where he was.”
Romar took the blame for not having his team ready. But the players admitted there was little that could have adequately prepared them for the atmosphere and a noise level mirroring that of a heavy metal concert much of the night.
“It’s not that you’re scared by it, but it’s another obstacle you have to overcome, and tonight it proved to be a pretty big one,” said Huskies freshman center Spencer Hawes.
Falling most victim was a relative veteran in sophomore guard Justin Dentmon, who was 0-for-6 shooting in the first half and finished 2 for 14. Romar said he thought Dentmon, who finished with seven points and had four turnovers in 32 minutes, was trying to do too much.
“I was just having a terrible shooting night,” Dentmon said. “We were just playing too fast, trying to make the home-run play on every possession, and we just couldn’t make it.”
Dentmon said the Bulldogs packed in the middle of their defense and dared the Huskies to shoot outside. “And that’s what we did,” he said glumly. The Huskies, however, were just 5 for 20 on three-pointers, their worst percentage of the year.
Hawes, who finished with 20 points, and Jon Brockman, who had 13 points and 12 rebounds, led a UW rally that cut a 20-point Gonzaga led to 13 by halftime. The Huskies got as close as 11 points on two occasions in the second half, but they could never get closer and the Bulldogs pulled away in the final minutes.
“We are young and this is early and we are going to have a chance to improve,” said Hawes. “This is not the same team you are going to see in a week, or a month, or by the time March rolls around.”
Gonzaga has now won 45 straight home games and 33 in a row in the three-year-old McCarthey Athletic Center. That includes two wins over the Huskies, who have been ranked each time. They are the only ranked teams Gonzaga has ever played here.
As it ended, the student section jeered, “Go home Huskies.”
Washington has likely never been happier to accede to a Gonzaga request.
|WASHINGTON HUSKIES 7-1|
|GONZAGA BULLDOGS 9-2|
Attendance: 6000. Officials: Dick Cartmell, Mark Reischling, Sam Haddad. Technical fouls: Washington-None. Gonzaga-None.