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Gonzaga throws the book at Gaels

December 06, 2000

Gonzaga throws the book at Gaels



By BOB PARASILITI / Staff Writer


If it's any consolation to St. Maria Goretti, at least the Gaels forced Gonzaga to go to the very back page of the playbook.

And for that matter, Goretti should feel honored because the one the Purple Eagles found was only used to win a championship.

Freshman Eric Price blew the dust off a little-used out-of-bounds play and charged to the basket for an uncontested layup at the buzzer Tuesday to lift Gonzaga to a stunning 54-53 victory over Goretti at the Gael Center.

"It was the same play we used in 1999 to beat DeMatha in the city championship game," Gonzaga coach Dick Myers said. "It's only the second time we've ever used that play ... I guess we should be using that one more often."

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Derrick Davis hit an 8-foot pull-up jumper with 53 seconds remaining to give Goretti (3-2) a 53-52 lead. It turned the tightly contested, defensive struggle into a game of Beat the Clock.

Gonzaga set a deliberate tone for the final minute, trying to milk the clock for the final shot. Goretti had only three team fouls, four below the foul shooting bonus, and elected to settle into a halfcourt defense.

After a series of timeouts, Gonzaga had the ball out of bounds on the baseline with two seconds remaining. The play was put in motion with Price charging down the lane for a bounce pass under the basket leading the layup. It was the only basket the freshman scored in the game.

"It wasn't a blown assignment. No one reacted well and he just busted down the middle and was open," Goretti coach Cokey Robertson said.

The play was a variation of a standard out-of-bounds set for the Purple Eagles.

"It was our No. 3 out-of-bounds play but instead of stacking our two big men, we used a guard," Myers said. "The big man broke to the corner and we told the guard to break hard to the basket because no one will expect him. This was a great win for us. This is a very difficult place to play. Winning by one point here is like winning by 15 points anywhere else."

The two teams waged a war for three quarters, tying 28-28 at the half before Goretti took a 44-43 advantage after three quarters. There were nine ties and nine lead changes in the game.

Goretti fell behind 48-44 with five minutes remaining before going on a 7-1 run in the next 3 1/2 minutes to take a 51-49 lead behind four of Rodney Gibson's game-high 20 points to set up the final tug-of-war.

Matt Tanner finished with 12 points for the Gaels while Davis had 10 points with four steals. Gibson pulled down 10 rebounds. Mike Orfini topped Gonzaga with 15 points.

"That's the kind of play that takes the heart right out of you," Robertson said. "We battled so hard and stayed with them. We were down four late and came back to take the lead. We played good defense the whole game ... except for the last two seconds."

Gonzaga 54, Goretti 53


GONZAGA (54)

Harrison 4, Nesmith 7, Hodge 3, Goodson 10, Cobb 8, Orfini 15, Sumner 5, Price 2. Totals 23 3-6 54.

ST. MARIA GORETTI (53)

Gibson 20, Tanner 12, Spierenberg 4, Davis 10, Carter 7. Totals 20 9-13 53.

Gonzaga13151521-54

St. Maria Goretti17111419-53

Three-point baskets - Gonzaga 5 (Orfini 2, Hodge, Goodson, Sumner), St. Maria Goretti 4 (Gibson, Tanner, Davis, Carter).

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