"If we hear anything late at night," Stockton said, "I know he's
going to handle it."
Stockton is similarly confident in Dower's ability to handle matters
on the basketball court. Dower led Gonzaga with 20 points and 13
rebounds Tuesday night, and the Bulldogs claimed their second
consecutive West Coast Conference tournament championship by downing
Brigham Young 75-64.
The top-seeded Bulldogs (28-6) survived a late charge by the
second-seeded Cougars (23-11) to win their 12th title during a
record string of 17 consecutive title-game appearances.
"It never gets old," Gonzaga coach Mark Few said a smile.
The tournament championship automatically qualifies Gonzaga for a
16th straight trip to the NCAA Tournament. Few said BYU deserves to
join the Bulldogs in the Big Dance.
"There's not a question in my mind they're an NCAA Tournament team,"
"I feel we've done enough to get in," BYU guard Tyler Haws said.
The NCAA selection committee's view of the Cougars may be swayed by
the status of key BYU guard Kyle Collinsworth. He had to be helped
off the court and did not return after suffering a right knee injury
with 13:43 to play.
Cougars coach Dave Rose said Collinsworth would undergo an MRI exam
"He was in a lot of pain," Rose said.
Collingsworth finished with 13 points. Haws, sixth in the nation at
the start of the day with an average of 23.4 points per game, scored
Gary Bell Jr. scored 14 points for Gonzaga, and backcourt partner
Kevin Pangos tossed in 11.
Few has been head coach of the Bulldogs for 15 years following 10
seasons as an assistant coach or graduate assistant coach at the
little Catholic school in Spokane, Wash. Few said early-season
injuries to Dower and Pangos made for "the most adversity I've had
since I've been head coach."
Few's teams rarely played better than at the start of Tuesday's
game. The Bulldogs sank 10 of their first 14 shots, held BYU to
4-for-15 shooting and led 25-9 after 10 minutes.
"Everything just built up, and it was contagious," Dower said.
"We were in attack mode," Few said. "We were playing great defense."
The Zags led 44-27 at the half, then expanded the lead to 20 points
early in the second half.
"They played a terrific game," Rose said. "They were really good,
especially in the first 10 minutes of the game."
The Cougars pulled within 10 midway through the second half and
twice made it an eight-point game before Pangos settled matters at
the free-throw line down the stretch.
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"I thought we got a little too tentative on the offensive end and
were looking up (at the clock) and trying to protect the lead," Few
"I was proud of the way we competed in the second half," Haws said.
Dower was named Most Outstanding Player of the tournament in a vote
by media, but Few said Stockton should have shared the award with
Dower. Stockton, the son of Basketball Hall of Fame point guard John
Stockton, ran Gonzaga's offense expertly and finished with four
points, seven assists and three steals.
"They've got a point guard that's fearless," Rose said. "He can make
the other guys on the court better."
Stockton, a fifth-year senior who redshirted as a non-scholarship
walk-on his first year at Gonzaga, made some dazzling passes and
drives to the basket. Few jokingly said Stockton stands 5-foot-6,
but Stockton insists his listed 5-11 is accurate. He certainly
looked huge in Rose's eyes.
"He was really good tonight," Rose said. "His penetration is hard to
Stockton made the all-tournament team along with Dower, Bell, Haws
and San Francisco forward Cole Dickerson.
The Cougars had won six straight games and 10 of 11. The Bulldogs
enter the NCAA Tournament riding a five-game winning streak.
"They can really make a good run in the tournament," Rose said.
"They're a very good offensive team."
NOTES: The game drew a sellout crowd of 7,98 to the Orleans Arena.
... BYU has no seniors, but a few Cougars would be seniors or
graduates if they had not gone on two-year Mormon missions. Church
mission years do not count against collegiate eligibility. ... BYU
coach Dave Rose played collegiately at Houston on the "Phi Slama
Jama" team that featured future NBA stars Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde
Drexler. Houston, ranked No. 1, lost to coach Jim Valvano's North
Carolina State squad in the 1983 NCAA title game. ... Rose, a cancer
survivor, has participated in Gonzaga coach Mark Few's annual
Coaches vs. Cancer fund-raisers. Since 2002, the Spokane events have
raised more than $6 million.
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