No. 3 Gonzaga beats San Diego 94-59; Morrison honored
SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) — Growing up in Serbia, Filip Petrusev didn’t know much about former Gonzaga star Adam Morrison and his amazing 2006 season.
He knows a lot more now, after Morrison’s No. 3 was put on permanent display in a ceremony Thursday at the McCarthey Athletic Center.
Petrusev, who also wears No. 3, had 21 points and nine rebounds as third-ranked Gonzaga beat San Diego 94-59 on Thursday to clinch its eighth straight West Coast Conference regular-season title.
“It was huge,” Petrusev said of the Morrison ceremony before the game. “I’ve been able to learn all he has been through.”
Wearing the same number, “I feel an honor but also a responsibility,” Petrusev said. “I’d like to live up to the standard. It’s special.”
Corey Kispert scored 16 points and Ryan Woolridge had 15 for Gonzaga (28-2, 14-1 WCC), which rebounded from its loss at BYU on Saturday.
Joey Calcaterra scored 19 points and Alex Floresca had 11 for undersized San Diego (9-21, 2-13), which has lost 12 straight to Gonzaga.
Gonzaga has won 38 consecutive home games, the longest streak in the country. The Bulldogs are also seeking to play the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament in Spokane.
Kispert scored 11 points as Gonzaga took an 18-12 lead midway through the first half. San Diego made three straight baskets to tie the score at 18.
Killian Tillie and Petrusev led a 21-9 run by Gonzaga that put the Bulldogs up 39-27.
Gonzaga led 46-34 at halftime, after shooting nearly 59% with a 28-8 advantage on points in the paint.
That proved to be the high point for San Diego, which was routed in the second half.
“In the second half our defensive intensity was really, really good,” Gonzaga coach Mark Few said. “And we were pretty darn efficient on the offensive end.”
A 14-5 run to open the second half put Gonzaga up 60-39.
The Toreros hung around, but Woolridge scored six points during a 10-0 run that put Gonzaga up 76-51 midway through the second.
“We played a really smart and efficient first half but just got worn down,” San Diego coach Sam Scholl said. “Joey’s a special player and he stepped up tonight.”
Gonzaga honored Morrison, a former first-team All-American, by unveiling his jersey number in the rafters. Morrison, now a Gonzaga radio broadcaster, electrified college basketball in 2006 when he led the country in scoring after a season-long battle with Duke’s JJ Redick. Gonzaga finished 29-4 and was No. 5 in the final AP poll.
Morrison was the third overall pick of the NBA draft after his junior year and played several years in the league. He joined former national scoring leader Frank Burgess (44) and NBA Hall of Famer John Stockton (12) as the only Gonzaga players whose jersey numbers hang in the arena.
“When Adam came around, he turned us into a national brand,” Few told the crowd.
Morrison thanked a long list of people for his success. “I really appreciate you guys so much and I love you all,” Morrison said. “I’m so thankful I grew up in this community.”
Few said it was great to look back on a “magical, magical year” that brought a lot of attention to the program.
San Diego shot 30% in the second half, and 38% for the game. They were outscored 48-25 in the second.
Taller Gonzaga won the rebound battle 51-27 and outscored the Toreros 54-22 in the paint. “We knew we had a size advantage,” Few said.
San Diego: The Toreros have lost eight of nine. ... Braun Hartfield was averaging 20.2 points in the previous six games, but was held to three points Thursday ... The Toreros average 66 points per game and have beaten only last-place Portland in WCC play.
Gonzaga: The Zags lead the nation in scoring at 87.6 points per game and in scoring margin at 20 ppg. ... They have six players averaging in double figures. ... Winning the conference title gives them a bye into the semifinals of the upcoming WCC Tournament in Las Vegas. ... They have won at least 25 games for 13 consecutive seasons. ... They have won or shared 19 of the past 20 WCC regular-season titles.
San Diego finishes the regular season by hosting Pacific on Saturday.
Gonzaga finishes the regular season by hosting rival Saint Mary’s on Saturday. The Zags beat the Gaels 90-60 on the road earlier in February.
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