EA SPORTS MAUI INVITATIONAL
Gonzaga's Adam Morrison put up a shot over Maryland players, from left, James Gist, Dave Neal and Nik Caner-Medley in the second half yesterday.
No. 8 Zags top Terps
Forward Adam Morrison's 25 points and nine rebounds lead Gonzaga past No. 23 Maryland
LAHAINA » The return of forward Adam Morrison certainly factored into Gonzaga being awarded its highest preseason ranking in the program's history.
But the play of the Bulldogs' backcourt could be the key to fulfilling their lofty expectations.
Morrison, a preseason All-American, scored 25 points and grabbed nine rebounds to lead No. 8 Gonzaga to an 88-76 win over No. 23 Maryland in the opening round of a stacked EA Sports Maui Invitational.
And he got ample support from the guard tandem of Derek Raivio and freshman Jeremy Pargo in the second half.
Raivio hit four 3-pointers and finished with 24 points, while Pargo settled down after a shaky first half to finish with 11 points and seven assists. Center J.P. Batista contributed 21 points for the Bulldogs.
"I think we make it easier on Adam when I've got things going or some other guys have things going," Raivio said. "When our big guy, J.P. Batista, has things going it takes a lot of pressure off of Adam."
Gonzaga (2-0) advanced to today's semifinal round to face No. 12 Michigan State at 2 p.m. at the Lahaina Civic Center. Maryland (1-1) dropped into the consolation bracket and was to face host Chaminade at 8:30 this morning.
Gonzaga was actually the last team added to this year's tournament. DePaul was originally slated to participate, but was taken out of the field when it joined the Big East Conference since league member Connecticut was also entered in the event.
"We had to move DePaul and ended up getting Gonzaga and they may end up winning the whole tournament," tournament chairman Dave Gavitt said.
Morrison scored 11 of Gonzaga's first 17 points, including an eight-point spurt that gave the Bulldogs an early lead. But Maryland battled back from eight down to take a 34-33 lead into halftime.
Pargo, a true freshman point guard from Chicago, had five turnovers and no assists in 13 minutes off the bench in the first half. He didn't turn the ball over again in the game while distributing the ball to the Bulldogs' scorers.
"In practice we always see him do that," Raivio said. "He has a great feel for the game and he does a good job setting me and Adam up."
As a team, Gonzaga committed just five turnovers in the second half after giving the ball away 12 times in the first half. The Bulldogs shot 76 percent in the second half and hit all six of their 3-point shots. Gonzaga also went 23-for-28 from the free-throw line in the game to hold off the Terrapins.
"Taking care of the basketball really leads to baskets," Gonzaga coach Mark Few said. "We were able to get some run-out fast breaks and we really made the extra pass.
"We have a lot of weapons who can score and we struggle when we shoot ourselves in the foot, when we turn the ball over or when we shoot a little too quick. In the second half we settled our freshman point guard down a little bit, and he did a good job and Derek hit some big, big shots."
With the teams trading the lead in a tight second half, Raivio helped give Gonzaga some breathing room with two 3-pointers highlighting a decisive 10-0 run.
After a breakaway dunk by Maryland guard D.J. Strawberry tied the game at 60, Batista gave Gonzaga the lead back with a layup in the post and Raivio nailed a 3-pointer to start the run. Raivio hit another from long range to put Gonzaga ahead 70-60 with 5:50 left.
Maryland also had four players in double figures, with guard Chris McCray leading the way with 18 points. Strawberry, the son of former Major League Baseball player Darryl Strawberry, had 16 points and four assists.
Gonzaga held Maryland forward Nik Caner-Medley, the Terrapins' leading returning scorer to three points on 1-for-7 shooting from the field.
No. 3 Connecticut 77, Arkansas 68
UConn forward Rudy Gay showed off some of the skills that could earn him national player of the year consideration as the Huskies (2-0) held off a pesky Razorbacks squad.
Gay, a 6-foot-9 sophomore, threw down two spectacular dunks in the second half en route to a 28-point performance on 11-for-19 shooting. Guard Denham Brown added 21 points.
UConn won despite turning the ball over 23 times.
"I think this was a terrific win for us," UConn coach Jim Calhoun said. "Their pressure hurt us and we'll see that against Arizona. ... I was pleased except for the ball-handling."
Arkansas guard Ronnie Brewer nearly matched Gay with 25 points.
UConn led 34-28 at halftime and stretched the lead to double digits when Gay soared over 7-foot center Steven Hill for a dunk while being fouled. He later drove along the baseline and exploded to the bucket for a two-handed slam.
"The great ones have a way of making you shake your head," Calhoun said.
No. 9 Arizona 61, Kansas 49
The Wildcats withstood a charge from the young Jayhawks and pulled away late in the second half to reach the semifinals.
Arizona will face No. 3 Connecticut in today's second semifinal game at 4:30 p.m.
Arizona (1-0) saw an early 20-4 lead evaporate, and shot only 28.3 percent from the field. But the Wildcats were able to hold off a Kansas team that started three sophomores, a freshman and a senior, and brought three more freshmen off the bench.
"We wanted to prove we could shoot that lousy and show you can still win if you play good defense," Arizona coach Lute Olson joked.
After Kansas (1-1) tied the game at 41 with 11:32 left, Arizona went on a 14-3 run to establish control. Kansas was still within three when two Kansas turnovers led to a layup by Hassan Adams and a Chris Rodgers breakaway dunk, putting Arizona up 50-43 at the 6:56 mark.
"We just dug ourselves a hole we couldn't climb out," Kansas coach Bill Self said.
No. 14 Michigan State 89, Chaminade 67
Michigan State rebounded from its season-opening loss to Hawaii with a victory over the host Silverswords.
The Spartans couldn't shake Division II Chaminade in the first half, leading by just six at the break. But they pulled away in the second half, holding Chaminade without a field goal for nearly 10 minutes at one stretch.
MSU guard Maurice Ager led all scorers with 23 points, while Shannon Brown added 18. Center Paul Davis finished with 16 points and 13 rebounds.
"It was an important win for us. If we had won by two I would have been happy ... because I just didn't know what to expect," MSU coach Tom Izzo said.
OTHER TOP 25 GAMES
No. 2 Texas 76, No. 13 West Virginia 75
KANSAS CITY, Mo. » LaMarcus Aldridge made a putback with 3.6 seconds left and blocked a last-second shot to lift the Longhorns (3-0) past the Mountaineers (2-1) in the semifinals of the Guardians Classic.
No. 18 Iowa 67, No. 7 Kentucky 63
KANSAS CITY, Mo. » Greg Brunner had 17 points and 12 rebounds, and the Hawkeyes (3-0) made a flurry of clutch defensive plays and free throws to beat the Wildcats (2-1) in the semifinals of the Guardians Classic.
No. 20 Indiana 100, Florida A&M 63
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. » Marshall Strickland scored 18 of his 20 points in the first half, and Roderick Wilmont added 17 to help the Hoosiers (2-0) rout the Rattlers (1-1).
No. 24 Wake Forest 79, UNC-Asheville 63
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. » Justin Gray paced a balanced offense with 16 points, Trent Strickland scored 14 and the Demon Deacons (4-1) finally got a breather with a victory over the pesky Bulldogs (0-2).
Middle Tennessee 60, Utah St. 59
MURFREESBORO, Tenn. » Bud Howard had 14 points, seven rebounds and the winning free throw to lead the Blue Raiders (1-0) to a win over the Aggies (1-1).
New Mexico St. 83, W. New Mexico 51
LAS CRUCES, N.M. » Tyrone Nelson and David Fisher keyed a 16-0 second-half run that helped the Aggies (1-1) beat the Roadrunners (0-1).
Weber St. 66, Boise St. 61
BOISE, Idaho » David Patten scored 22 points and Coric Riggs added 12 points and pulled down 13 rebounds to lead the Wildcats (2-0) to a nonconference victory over the Broncos (1-1).