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Archive for Sunday, January 29, 2006

Morrison goes off for Zags

Junior scores 42 as Bulldogs cruise

January 29, 2006

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— Adam Morrison scored 30 in the first 20 minutes, then let his teammates do most of the work in the second half.

Morrison finished with 42 points, one short of his career high, as No. 7 Gonzaga beat stubborn Portland, 81-64, on Saturday for its 33rd consecutive home victory.

The nation's leading scorer at 29 points per game, Morrison hit the 40-point mark for the fourth time this season and second game in a row. He has topped 30 nine times.

"I'm not here to score as many points as I can," said Morrison, a junior. "I'm here to win. I'd be happy with 20 and the win."

Morrison went off in the first half, scoring 30 of Gonzaga's 41 points on 9-of-14 field goals. Forward J.P. Batista got into early foul trouble and had just two points. With Batista recovering to score 14 in the second half, Morrison could back off.

"I'm not going to score 30 in every half," Morrison said.

Coach Mark Few said the Bulldogs tried to share the ball more, but when Batista was off the floor, the focus switched to Morrison.

Morrison finished 14-of-26 from the floor, taking nearly half of Gonzaga's 55 shots. He also had 19 free throws, compared to 20 for the Portland team, making 12.

"He made a lot of tough shots," Few said. "He earned them all tonight."

Gonzaga (17-3, 7-0 WCC) has won eight straight games and 16 consecutive West Coast Conference games. The 33 consecutive home games tied the Zags with Illinois and Southern Illinois for the longest streak in the nation.

Portland (8-13, 2-5) was the last team to beat the Zags at home, on Feb. 19, 2003.

Portland, which beat Oregon and Oregon State this season, has lost five straight to Gonzaga and 19 of the past 20. But the Pilots, after falling behind 14-0 to open the game, managed to stay close until late in the second half.

"I was proud of our guys to withstand that and to scratch and claw back into the game," coach Michael Holton said. "This is one of the top environments in college basketball for a home team."

Trailing by eight at halftime, Portland got hot and went on a 12-4 run to open the second, with Marcus Lewis' turnaround jumper tying the score at 45.

Morrison, scoreless in the first six minutes of the second half, had a slam and a putback, and Batista added three layups as Gonzaga rebuilt a 57-50 lead.

The lead held as the Zags went repeatedly to the free-throw line. The nation's best free-throw shooting team at 81 percent, the Zags made 23 of 36.

"That was the difference in the game," Holton said.

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