Gonzaga coach Mark Few always approaches the annual game with neighbor Eastern Washington with some dread. The Eagles in recent years have tended to rise to the challenge against...
SPOKANE — Gonzaga coach Mark Few always approaches the annual game with neighbor Eastern Washington with some dread.
The Eagles in recent years have tended to rise to the challenge against their better-known rivals, and last night’s game at the Spokane Arena was a good example.
Adam Morrison scored 25 points and the No. 13 Bulldogs shot 62 percent from the field to beat the stubborn Eagles 83-70.
Gonzaga could not quite pull away until near the end of the game, and the Bulldogs were outrebounded for the first time all season, 30-29.
“We have nothing to win and everything to lose and those games are dangerous,” Few said. “They were loose and flying around. The stage was set for a pratfall here.”
Gonzaga was coming off an emotional win over then-No. 3 Georgia Tech last Saturday, and Few was worried the Bulldogs might be looking ahead to No. 3 Oklahoma State on Tuesday.
But Morrison, from Mead High School in Spokane, and Ronny Turiaf, who had 17 points and seven rebounds, kept the pressure on the Eagles in a game that saw 47 fouls called.
“I can’t remember when this game was ever pretty,” Few remarked.
Morrison said the Bulldogs had trouble getting untracked against Eastern’s defense.
“They slowed our break down,” said Morrison, who was 8 of 13 from the field.
Gonzaga (9-1) which won its sixth straight game, was 27 of 43 from the field and 24 of 34 from the free-throw line.
Marc Axton, who played at Foss High School in Tacoma, led Eastern Washington (2-8) with 33 points, including a school record-tying seven three-pointers. The Eagles have lost six straight games and have also dropped 19 in a row to Gonzaga dating to 1990.
But they used 11 threes to stay in the game against the more athletic Bulldogs. They finished 11 of 27 from three-point range, that 40 percent mark better than their 38 percent overall shooting.
“The shots were going in but we lost,” Axton said.
Eastern coach Mike Burns was pleased with the effort after a string of disappointing losses.
“We were a very fragile group coming into this game,” he said. “Our offensive execution was as good as it’s been in awhile.”
After leading by 10 at halftime, Gonzaga went on an 8-0 run early in the second half to build a 47-31 lead with 16:28 left.
But Axton completed a rare four-point play to pull Eastern within 49-38. Tim Scheffler and Axton hit three-pointers and Danny Pariseau added a jumper to get the Eagles within 53-46 with 12 minutes left.
But Eastern didn’t make a field goal for more than six minutes as Gonzaga built a 66-51 lead.