Game Notes: Gonzaga at LMU
We ain’t lyin’, the Lions pull off the upset.
It was a classic trap-game for Gonzaga, the kind coaches always warn their players about.
The opponent Thursday night, Loyola Marymount, had struggled for a majority of the season and didn’t have much to play for, aside from the fact that a victory over a nationally ranked team would make each Lions’ loss beforehand seem like a distant memory.
Sure enough, the Bulldogs took the bait. They overlooked Loyola Marymount and were humbled in a 74-66 West Coast Conference loss on the road. So much for its No.13 slot in the Associated Press poll, Gonzaga can forget about being ranked that high next week.
The unfortunate thing, at least for the Bulldogs is that it appeared as if they had finally begun to emerge as one of the top teams in the country. Seemingly nothing could tarnish their growing reputation as a force to be reckon with.
Or so the Zags thought.
Guess it’s back to the drawing board.
Upsets tend to make you rethink things.
*** When it comes to talented freshmen, John Wall has the entire country captivated, and thus, receives most of the nation’s attention. Make no mistake, Elias Harris is no slouch. The rookie deserves a shout-out for averaging 15 points per game for the Bulldogs, on 55 percent shooting from the field, to go along with 8 rebounds a night. He is, after all, one of the main reasons that SLAMonline is in the house tonight.
*** Speaking of Harris, the 6-8 forward is out on the floor early, putting in some extra work before the opening tip. Talk of Harris being a one-and-done type and bolting to the League has recently surfaced. Odds are, he‘ll end up staying put for his sophomore year though. By the time 2011 rolls around, we wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if he’s a first-round selection in the NBA Draft, perhaps a lottery pick.
*** Not sure many know this, but a couple weeks ago the Lions held a ceremony to honor the late great Hank Gathers, who tragically died on March 4th, 1990. The story is legendary. Without its star, LMU made a remarkable run during postseason play that year, coming up one game of short of reaching the Final Four. Hard to believe that was two decades ago. Gathers is gone, indeed, but far from forgotten. Step inside Gersten Pavilion and the first thing you notice his No. 44 jersey hanging from above.
*** From the outset, Harris looks good. He knocks down a three-pointer and adds a jumper to give Gonzaga an 11-8 lead at 15:19.
*** Ashley Hamilton and Jarred DuBois keep the Lions close over the course of the next eight-plus minutes. They combine for 11 points. The Bulldogs, however, maintain a five-point advantage with 7:37 left.
*** Mangisto Arop comes off the bench and provides a spark, scoring seven straight points for the Zags. The lead is extended to 34-25 and there’s 4:44 remaining before the break. The Lions could be in a bit of trouble.
*** Drew Viney gets it going, burying one from way downtown, and following the three-pointer, he hits another jumper. Loyola Marymount is showing sings of life and trails by a basket at the 3:15 mark.
*** Down 39-36 at intermission, the Lions have plenty of momentum after Larry Davis converts a pair of free-throws before the buzzer. The crowd is back into this game. Gonzaga better watch out.
*** Can’t believe how poorly Matt Bouldin played thus far. The senior leader for the Zags went scoreless over the final 16-plus minutes, finishing with four points. That type of effort wasn’t expected from a cat who’s considered one of the best on the West Coast. He’s bound to turn things around.
*** Loyola Marymount pulls even on a layup from Kevin Young. Things are deadlocked, 43-43, with 16:01 on the clock.
*** Dubois drains a three-pointer, from deep. Hamilton grabs a board and scores. Davis makes a pair of layups. All of a sudden, the Lions are up by five points at 13:29. The lead is one of their first advantages since the opening minutes of the game.
*** Harris restores some order. His three-pointer cuts the deficit to 52-50. Lot of time left in this one, 10:22, to be exact.
*** Young manages to get free underneath, again, this time for a two baskets inside. Loyola Marymount is up seven at 8:54.
*** Hamilton makes a layup to extend the lead to 66-56 with 4:24 remaining. The Lions are starting to believe they can pull this thing off. Making matters worse for the Zags, the local fans are starting to believe as well.
*** A Bouldin layup at 3:07 keeps the Bulldogs within striking distance. They trail 66-62. It’s not over, not just yet.
*** Hamilton answers, scoring back-back buckets. Loyola Marymount has plenty of fight left and leads 68-62 at 2:12.
*** Bouldin buries a jumper. Gonzaga is still down by four points. Less than minute remains. The Bulldogs need a stop.
*** Viney steps to the line and hits his free-throws down the stretch. The 74-66 victory is the Lions’ first over a ranked team since Bo Kimble and the 1990 squad accomplished the feat in honor of the fallen Gathers.
*** Following the final buzzer, Hamilton makes his way over to the scorer’s table and hops on top of it, gesturing to the crowd to join him in the celebration. A melee breaks out at mid-court, of course, as the place goes absolutely crazy with kids waving around oversized photos of Lions’ coach Max Good. Classic stuff.
*** Hamilton finished with a game-high 17 points, to go along with 6 rebounds and 3 blocks. Afterward, however, he had no interest in answering questions about individual accolades. He only spoke spoke about how important the victory was for the team and to those closely associated with the program. ”Everybody talks about beating Gonzaga,” he said. “To finally do it as a team, as a campus, as a community is a special feeling.”
*** A final look at the stats reveals that Harris played well throughout. He ended up with 13 points, 11 rebounds and pair of blocks.
*** Bouldin, on the other hand, was a disappointment. He had 10 points on 3-12 shooting from the field in 35 minutes of action.