No. 25 Gonzaga Tops Montana


Gonzaga kept its composure, even though it kept losing players.

The No. 25 Bulldogs had four players foul out, but beat Montana 76-61 Sunday in the season opener for both teams.

"This group's got a lot of experience," said first-year coach Mark Few, an assistant last year when Gonzaga advanced to the round of eight in the NCAA tournament. "We've been in a lot of games. We've been in a lot of hostile environments."

Montana had rallied from an eight-point deficit to pull within 32-30 with 1:04 left in the first half on a 3-pointer by Shane Christensen. Ryan Floyd then had a basket and a 3-pointer in the final 33 seconds to give Gonzaga a 37-30 edge.

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  • Gonzaga opened the second half with a 11-2 run, keyed by seven points from Casey Calvary, to take a 48-32 lead on a flying dunk by Calvary with 14:29 remaining. Calvary scored 13 of his team-high 17 points in the second half.

    "I thought we weathered a storm," said Few. "Montana played with a tremendous amount of passion. We got to finally assert some of the advantages that we had. We finally got the ball into Casey and he went to work."

    Montana coach Don Holst said his team made a good effort, with the exception of the last minute of the first half and the first five minutes of the second.

    Montana used a 7-0 run, closing to 48-39 on a baseline shot by Ryan Slider. A dunk by Slider made it 50-43 midway through the half, but the Grizzlies got no closer.

    "The kids rallied back. I thought they played really hard from about 13 minutes left until the end," Holst said. "We couldn't quite catch them."

    Gonzaga twice built its lead to 16 61-45 on Calvary's last basket with 8:34 remaining and 64-48 on a 3-pointer by att Santangelo, who finished with 14 points and seven assists.

    Matt Williams led Montana with 18 points and 10 rebounds. Williams was 10-of-15 from the free-throw line and his drives led to Axel Dench, Calvary and Mark Spink fouling out.

    "An aggressive kid like Williams, he does a good job of really putting foul pressure on you," Few said.

    Gonzaga seemed frustrated early as contact that might have have been allowed in the NCAA tournament was whistled. Montana was in the bonus just seven minutes into the game.

    "In those tournament games they let them play, especially inside," Few said. "But I have no problem with how the officials called the game."

    Richie Frahm had 12 points for Gonzaga. Floyd scored all 10 of his points in the first half, and Dench also finished with 10.

    Christensen had 14 points for Montana, including a 4-of-6 effort from 3-point range. Slider added 12 points.

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