SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) -- Gonzaga star Ronny Turiaf knew it was time
to take control.
Portland State shot better than 60 percent to stay close Friday
night before Turiaf scored 12 consecutive Gonzaga points midway
through the second half to blow open the game and lead No. 25
Gonzaga to a 98-80 victory in the season opener for both teams.
Turiaf finished with a career-high 33 points -- 19 in the second
half -- and nine rebounds.
"We've got to play hard for 40 minutes," Turiaf said. "If we
do that, people are going to have a hard time playing us."
The Vikings made 68 percent of their shots in the first half and
entered intermission tied with the Zags at 46-all. Gonzaga was
almost as sharp, shooting 64 percent.
Portland State was within 66-61 midway through the second when
Turiaf -- Gonzaga's only returning senior starter -- made five
baskets and two free throws in three minutes to open a lead the
Vikings would never overcome.
Gonzaga coach Mark Few called it the worst defensive performance
he had seen in 16 years with the Bulldogs. Portland State finished
30-of-49 for 61 percent, including 8-of-17 from 3-point range.
"We were just awful defensively," Few said.
Few did note that Erroll Knight, one of his best defensive
players, was out with an injury. The Bulldogs were also playing for
the first time in the new $25 million McCarthey Athletic Center.
"Chalk this up to stage fright," Few said.
Portland State coach Heath Schroyer was proud of his team.
"They're a load," he said of Gonzaga. "Ronny Turiaf is a
lottery pick, and the four guys around him can shoot it."
Neither team looked like it was playing its season opener. Both
shot well in a frantically paced contest. Gonzaga finished 39-of-60
to shoot 65 percent.
Schroeder hit three early 3-pointers to help Portland State
build a 31-23 lead.
The Zags scored eight unanswered to tie the game, and Pierre
Marie Altidor-Cespedes scored on consecutive short jumpers to give
Gonzaga a 37-35 lead.
The Bulldogs held the lead until the final second of the half,
when Portland State point guard Will Funn's buzzer-beater tied the
score at 46-all. Funn picked up his second technical arguing that
he was fouled and was ejected.
Gonzaga's new 6,000-seat arena replaced the tiny Martin Centre,
where the Bulldogs posted a 161-15 record from 1991 through 2004.
Knight missed the game with a thumb injury, and junior college
transfer J.P. Batista has not yet been cleared to play by the NCAA.
That forced the Bulldogs to play highly touted freshman David
Pendergraft, who they had hoped to redshirt.
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Indiana guard James Blackmon Jr., who averaged 15.8 points in 13 games before being injured last season, has withdrawn from the NBA draft.
Isaiah Briscoe has decided to withdraw from the NBA draft and will return to Kentucky for his sophomore season. Marcus Lee intends to transfer.
The Big 12/SEC Challenge will again feature Kansas and Kentucky, this time at Rupp Arena. That's not the only exciting matchup in next season's midseason conference showdown.