for this game

Late free throws help Gonzaga topple Connecticut

Dec 2, 2007 - 12:30 AM By Mike Petraglia PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

BOSTON (Ticker) -- The cross-country road trip proved worthwhile for Gonzaga.

David Pendergraft's free throw with just over two minutes left in the second half broke a tie and gave No. 19 Gonzaga the lead for good as the Bulldogs held on for an 85-82 triumph over Connecticut at the TD Banknorth Garden on Saturday.

Jeremy Pargo had a team-high 23 points while Matt Bouldin added 19 to lead Gonzaga (7-1), which captured its first win in three meetings with the Big East squad.

Beginning on Thanksgiving night, Gonzaga played three games in the Great Alaska Shootout and needed overtime to fend off St. Joseph's in Philadelphia on Thursday before traveling to Boston for Saturday's contest.

"You can't come into a game thinking you're tired or you'll come out with a loss," Pargo said. "We came out and played hard as a team and came out with a victory."

"We thought about taking (Friday) off from practice but that's not a good thing for these guys," Gonzaga coach Mark Few said. "They're so resilient so we might as well start practicing three or four hours a day."

Gonzaga, which plays at home on December 5 against No. 6 Washington State, finished 4-1 in its five-game journey.

"This was a hard trip," Few said. "We came from Alaska, then maybe home in Spokane maybe 48 hours and then come all the way out to the East Coast, then rush up here Friday to make our practice. It seems like we've been on the run the whole time but this has been an awesome experience."

A.J. Price, who missed a possible game-tying 3-pointer at the buzzer, had 24 points to lead Connecticut (5-2).

The game was the first of a doubleheader in the Hartford Hall of Fame Showcase. The second game features Providence squaring off with Boston College.

Gonzaga, which had trailed from the opening tip, headed to the locker room with its first lead when David Pendergraft connected on a 3-pointer from the right wing.

Bouldin helped the Bulldogs continue their surge into the second half as he scored 17 of his points after the break.

The two teams exchanged runs midway through the second half before the game settled into a back-and-forth affair. The Huskies went on an 8-0 run, jumping out to a 67-63 lead on Jeff Adrien's layup with 9:43 remaining.

But Bouldin hit consecutive 3-pointers to help Gonzaga regain the lead, 69-67.

Early on, Price carried the UConn offense, hitting a 3-pointer with 11:14 remaining before the break to cap a 9-2 spurt and give the Huskies their biggest lead, 24-14.

"That was a heck of a battle and as physical a game we've had in quite a while," Few said. "I'm really proud of our guys. We talked about matching UConn's physicalness because I think they're the most physical team in the country."

Jerome Dyson nearly had a rare four-point chance to tie the game with 21.6 seconds remaining and Connecticut trailing by four. Dyson was fouled by Pargo while missing on a quick 3-point attempt, but made two of three free throws to cut Gonzaga's lead to 82-80.

Freshman Austin Daye then converted 3-of-4 attempts from the stripe in the final 15 seconds to seal the win for Gonzaga, which finished 21-of-34 (61.8 percent) on free throws.

"For a team that traveled in the Great Alaska Shootout, then traveled to St. Joe's and won in a tough arena, they looked like the fresh team and the team that knew how to win at the end and proved they were the better team," Connecticut coach Jim Calhoun said.