Lewis-Clark St.-Gonzaga Preview
By JEFF MEZYDLO
(AP) -- Fresh from winning a regular-season tournament title in Florida, Gonzaga returns home for an opportunity to fine-tune some things before its schedule turns difficult once again.
The No. 12 Bulldogs hope to maintain their focus when they host NAIA school Lewis-Clark State College on Thursday night.
After winning its first three games in relatively easy fashion, Gonzaga (6-0) was looking forward to being seriously challenged during last week's Old Spice Classic outside Orlando. Though the Bulldogs trailed at halftime in their tournament opener, they shot 49.7 percent and dominated defensively while beating Clemson, Oklahoma and Davidson by an average of 15.7 points to claim the school's second Old Spice championship.
"It was a really good week for us," coach Mark Few said. "We got tested in a variety of ways. Both with how the games flowed, but also with the different schemes and matchups that we faced."
Senior Elias Harris, who averaged 18.3 points to earn tournament MVP honors, scored a season-high 24 on 9-of-11 shooting and pulled down 10 rebounds in an 81-67 win over Davidson in Sunday's final. Kevin Pangos went 5 of 9 from 3-point range to finish with 23 points as the Bulldogs shot 55.1 percent, including 7 of 14 from beyond the arc.
"They've got some terrific offensive firepower," Davidson coach Bob McKillop said. "They beat you at every spot. I thought they defend very well, too."
Few was more than satisfied with the way his team fared against a Davidson squad that had allowed opponents to shoot 40.9 percent before the championship contest.
"We knew it was going to be tough," said Few, whose team held its three tournament opponents to an average of 54.3 points on 33.1 percent shooting. "That's just an unbelievably skilled team that is tough as nails. That fights you on every possession. We had to respond several different times to finally get it going in our direction. I think that bodes well for us down the road here."
While the Bulldogs are expected to have little trouble in Thursday's contest, they can draw on last week's experience starting Saturday when they begin a challenging four-game stretch against future West Coast Conference member Pacific, Washington State, No. 22 Illinois and Kansas State.
Though Thursday's game counts toward Gonzaga's overall record, it's an exhibition game for Idaho-based Lewis-Clark, which takes a 9-0 record to Spokane.
"It would be hard not to be happy with the way we've been playing, and hopefully we can continue that on Thursday," coach Brandon Rinta told Lewis-Clark's official athletics website. "We're going to approach the game the same way we do any other game, but we want it to be a great experience for our players and our fans. Hopefully we can enjoy the moment a little bit more."
The Warriors are led by senior P.J. Bolte, who averages 19.3 points and 6.3 rebounds.
Harris had 19 points and nine rebounds in just 19 minutes in Gonzaga's 103-61 victory over Lewis-Clark on Dec. 16, 2010.
Updated November 28, 2012