Chalk up another win for America’s favorite mustache as Adam Morrison’s Bulldogs survived a scare tonight to steal a victory against Xavier 79 to 75.
Despite heading into the half up just three points Xavier could have enjoyed a much larger lead because they were the more aggressive team on defense and offense. On defense the X-Men were switching on picks, diving for loose balls, playing with their feet instead of reaching while on the offensive end they were making the extra pass to find the open teammates and they were hitting those shots. With five minutes left in the half Frew called a timeout to rally his troops and a CBS announcer went to the commercial break by muttering under his breath, “Gonzaga is getting hit in the mouth.”
Gonzaga’s struggles in the first half were directly tied to All-American forward Adam Morrison’s inability to get into a groove shooting the ball. Morrison was held in check with 7 points through the majority of the first half and needed an insulin injection at 11:45 mark (he didn’t score again until there are five minutes left in the half). With the first half almost over Morrison connected both times from the charity stripe and then on Gonzaga’s next possession he nailed a three pointer to pull his team back to within four points. Morrison was able to finish the half with 15 points but they weren’t spectacular and he looked slow on the court.
Things were looking bleak for the Bulldogs until J.P. Batista walked to the scores table with 9 minutes left in the game and Gonzaga down eight points. As Batista asked to enter the game Morrison nailed a three to pull Zags closer at 59 to 54.
For the first three quarters of the game Xavier had control of the game but as the game was winding down the X-Men took their feet off the accelerator. As they took some of the intensity off they allowed the Bulldogs to sneak back into this game.
The first player to step up for Gonzaga in the second half was Errol Knight who stole fans attention as he stepped up and made big plays on back-to-back for the Zags. On the first possession Knight snagged a rebound off a missed three by Morrison and finished with a nice put back. On the Zags next possession he showed his versatility by nailing a three to pull the Bulldogs to within two at 61 to 59 and gave his teammates a burst of energy down the stretch.
With the game on the line Batista and Morrison took over the game and combined to scored 17 of the Bulldogs last 19 points. Morrison and Batista were able to score from the charity stripe, in the paint and from beyond the arc on their way to taking over control of the end of the game. It was the play of these All-American forwards late in the second half that allowed the Bulldogs steal a win.
This come from behind win was huge for Gonzaga but they’ll need to win a couple more games in the Tournament before they can call this season a success. A lot of writers are pegging Few’s teams as choke artists when Tournament time comes around and unless they advance to the Sweet Sixteen those haters will whispers will turn to loud rumblings.
Thu 03/16/06, 10:10 pm EST