Eighth-ranked Gonzaga hopes to do a better job of taking care of the basketball when it plays No. 12 Michigan State in the semifinals of the Maui Invitational.
The Bulldogs (2-0) committed 12 first-half turnovers, but reduced that number to five in the final 20 minutes of their 88-76 victory over No. 23 Maryland in the opening round of the tournament on Monday.
“I was really apprehensive about this game and the key is we took care of the ball in the second half and that’s not easy against Maryland,” Gonzaga coach Mark Few said. “We battened down the hatches and really settled down in the second half.”
Preseason All-America Adam Morrison scored 25 points, Derek Raivio had 24 and J.P. Batista added 21 for Gonzaga.
The Bulldogs’ matchup zone was especially effective over the final 10 minutes of the game, holding Maryland to four field goals in that span, three of them coming in the final 1:14.
“We had too much adrenaline going in the first half,” Raivio said. “We were taking quick shots, but we settled down in the second half.”
The Bulldogs shot 55.8 percent (29-for-52) overall, including 7-for-13 from 3-point range.
This is Gonzaga’s second appearance in this tournament. It finished in fourth place in 2002.
The Spartans (1-1) rebounded from a shocking loss to Hawaii with an easy 84-62 victory over Chaminade on Monday.
Maurice Ager went 4-for-5 from 3-point range on his way to 23 points and Paul Davis added 16 points and 13 rebounds to lead Michigan State.
The win came just two days after the then-No. 4 Spartans lost 84-62 at Hawaii in Honolulu.
“I didn’t sleep very well,” Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said of the day between games. “We got into the flow better and I feel fortunate to win. It wasn’t good enough to pat ourselves on the back.”
The Spartans weren’t bothered by leg cramps against Chaminade like they were against Hawaii when four starters were forced from the game, including Shannon Brown being carried from the court on a stretcher.
“It took courage for these kids coming off something like that,” Izzo said. “If you could have seen how people were tightening up after Saturday’s game. It’s scary.”
Brown finished with 18 points and five steals for Michigan State, which shot 50 percent from the field, including 7-for-9 from 3-point range.
“We had some spurts when we hit the 3s,” Izzo said. “This was an important win for us.”
Michigan State has a 10-6 all-time record in the state of Hawaii, including a 5-2 mark in the Maui Invitational. The Spartans won this tournament in 1991.