By John Ourand
After defeating Bishop Ireton on Feb. 17th, Gonzaga showed similar play on Friday night in the playoff quarterfinal matchup, defeating the Cardinals 62-47 to advance to the semifinal game on Sunday.
Both teams were off to a slow start in the first quarter. Gonzaga’s Michael Myers struck first with a layup straight off the tip, but Bishop Ireton’s Darius Hines hit a 3-pointer to help his team go on an early 5-0 run. Baskets from Prentiss Hubb and Myles Dread helped Gonzaga come back to tie the game, and a late basket from Chris Lykes put the Eagles up 11-9 at the end of the quarter. One thing that hurt both teams in the first quarter was shooting, especially from the free throw line. Both teams combined to shoot just one for six from the foul line, but the Eagles would pick it up by the fourth quarter.
In the second quarter the Eagles went on an early 7-0 run to put them up 18-9. Midway through the quarter, baskets from Terrance Williams and Lykes put the Eagles up 22-11 and forced a Bishop Ireton timeout. This was Gonzaga’s largest lead of the half.
However, right as Gonzaga began to dominate, Bishop Ireton fought back. A 3-point play from Arminas Kleisys, a basket from Hines and free throws from Ethan Lynch chipped away Gonzaga’s lead to seven points. At half the Eagles led 24-17.
The Cardinals’ lead continued into the third quarter, as a 4-0 run brought them up 28-19. From that point Gonzaga would go on to score just eight more points that quarter while Bishop Ireton would score 14 more.
The comeback started with an offensive rebound leading to two made free throws by Ethan Lynch. Jamie Pasha contributed to the comeback with a 3-pointer, and a 3-point play from Lynch cut Gonzaga’s lead to only one point, 34-33. Bishop Ireton ran a full-court press late in the quarter, but Lykes broke it to score a basket and put the Eagles up 36-33 heading into the fourth quarter.
In the final quarter, the Eagles dominated like they did in the second quarter. They started the quarter with another run, this time a 9-0 run including a 3-pointer from Hubb. This put the Eagles up 47-35, and practically out of reach from the Cardinals. Bishop Ireton did show some signs of life, as Pasha hit a 3-pointer and Hines had two baskets, but it wasn’t enough to stop the Eagles, especially in the fourth quarter. In the final two minutes Bishop Ireton began to foul and sent Gonzaga players to the free throw line for 10 foul shots. Gonzaga took advantage of these, and went 9-of-10 to seal the deal. The Eagles ended up winning 62-47.
In both this game and the game between the two teams in February, Gonzaga struggled to hold a strong lead. Whenever it started to pull away Bishop Ireton came back with clutch shots to make it a game again. Gonzaga’s head coach Steve Turner has an idea on why they were succeeding.
“They’re a good team, they’re in here for a reason,” Turner said. “They took advantage of our mistakes and capitalized and were able to make some big shots.”
Back in the game on Feb.17th, Gonzaga guard Anwar Gill came out of the game with what the coaches thought was just a tweak in his right ankle. Tonight, that right foot was in a cast and Gill was on the bench with crutches, as the right foot was actually broken. He won’t be able to play the rest of the season. Gonzaga guard Will Turgeon also spent the night on the bench without a uniform, he was out with illness.
Looking ahead, Gonzaga will face the winner of the St. John’s vs. St. Mary’s Ryken game in the semifinal game on Sunday at American University. Gonzaga is 1-1 this season against St. John’s and 2-0 against St. Mary’s Ryken. Head Coach Steve Turner is ready for either team.
“I can’t prepare right now until I know which one it’s going to be,” Turner said. “Whoever it is we’ll start preparing for them in the morning.”