Gonzaga's big men overpower San FranciscoBy Howie, Stalwick, The Sports Xchange | The SportsXchange – Sat, Jan 26, 2013 11:30 PM EST
SPOKANE, Wash. -- Elias Harris ranks among Gonzaga's career scoring and rebounding leaders, but the burly senior has been overshadowed much of the season due to the sudden emergence of frontcourt partner Kelly Olynyk. Not that insiders ever take Harris for granted. "Elias Harris is a (future) high-level pro," San Francisco coach Rex Walters said after Harris posted his second straight double-double for the 10th-ranked Bulldogs in a 66-52 romp Saturday night at the sold-out McCarthey Athletic Center. Harris piled up 12 points and 11 rebounds in 29 highly efficient minutes on a night when the Bulldogs went to their bench early and often. Olynyk led Gonzaga's balanced offense with 13 points, and the 7-foot junior added eight rebounds, three assists, three steals and one blocked shot in just 22 minutes. "He's a (potential NBA) lottery pick," Walters said. "That's what he is. I really believe that. It's the first time I've ever said that about a West Coast Conference player." Walters, a former NBA player, took time to say a few words to Olynyk as the teams exchanged postgame handshakes. "He said, 'Keep up the good work, you're going to have a long career in this game and be able to make some money,'" said Olynyk, who has not ruled out turning pro after the season. "It was a nice comment. I appreciated it." Olynyk teamed with the 6-8 Harris to clog the middle and make 6-7 San Francisco star Cole Dickerson disappear. Dickerson came into the game leading the Dons in scoring (14.9) and leading the WCC in rebounding (10.0), but he was held scoreless on 0-of-4 shooting from the field and pulled down only five rebounds before fouling out after playing 16 minutes. Dickerson declined an interview request. When Walters was asked to explain Dickerson's rough night, the coach simply smiled and said, "He's going against a lottery pick." The Bulldogs (19-2, 6-0 WCC) cruised after outscoring the young Dons 22-2 in the final 8:16 of the first half to build a 43-21 lead. "Our quality of shots went down the second 10 minutes of that first half," Walters said. "The guys pushed the panic button again. I didn't do a good enough job to help them understand there's no need to push the panic button." The Dons (9-12, 2-6), who start two freshmen, had won two straight after opening WCC play with five losses. The first-place Bulldogs, meanwhile, continue to roll. "We really worked together, played as a team," Harris said. "We played team defense again. We rebounded as a team. "It's just working right now. Everything's clicking." The Bulldogs, second in the nation coming into the game with 51.4 percent shooting from the floor, nailed 44.8 percent of their shots and held USF to 39.2 percent. Gonzaga had about half as many turnovers (8-15) and nearly twice as many assists (15-8) as San Francisco. "I thought we played 30 good minutes of basketball," said Gonzaga coach Mark Few, who was not pleased with the loose play of reserves in the final minutes. "We did a great job on the defensive end again." Sophomore guard Chris Adams led San Francisco with nine points. The Dons have lost 24 straight games at Gonzaga, last winning on Feb. 10, 1989. NOTES: Few is closing in on his 14th consecutive 20-win season as Gonzaga's head coach. He has between 23 and 29 wins during each of his 13 full seasons. Few is tied with Utah State's Stew Morrill (a former Gonzaga player and assistant coach) and Texas' Rick Barnes for the fifth-longest active string of 20-win seasons in NCAA Division I men's basketball. Duke's Mike Krzyzewski leads with 16, followed by Syracuse's Jim Boeheim with 15 and Florida's Billy Donovan and Kansas' Bill Self with 14. ... The game was part of Coaches vs. Cancer Week in the region. Few, Gonzaga assistant coach Tommy Lloyd and their wives have helped raise approximately $6 million for Coaches vs. Cancer since 2002. Gonzaga players and coaches wore T-shirts with "Believe" printed on the front. They were sold at the game to support Coaches vs. Cancer. ... Redshirt freshman wing Kyle Dranginis made his first start for Gonzaga. He replaced senior defensive specialist Mike Hart, who drew raves from Walters and Gonzaga players for his usual hustling performance. Dranginis scored 30 points Nov. 29 against NAIA Lewis-Clark State.
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