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Second-half push makes easy winner of Gonzaga

Nov 16, 2008 - 5:58 AM SPOKANE, Washington (Ticker) -- Josh Heytvelt and Gonzaga returned the favor against their Division II foe in the second half.

Heytvelt scored 11 of his 15 points after halftime as the 11th-ranked Bulldogs claimed an 83-52 victory over Montana State-Billings in their season opener on Saturday.

Austin Daye also had 15 points and pulled down 12 rebounds for Gonzaga (1-0), which improved to 53-2 all-time at the McCarthy Athletic Center.

"It was good first night for us," Gonzaga coach Mark Few said. "Defensively we did some good. We forced them into some long possessions with our pressure and that was good to see. We played good solid team defense tonight."

Early on, the Yellow Jackets (0-1) made it a respectable game, throwing together a 14-0 run at the end of the first half en route to 33-28 deficit at intermission. Guard Michael Hall hit three 3-pointers, hit a jumper and converted three free throws to account for all of the points.

"We have to give some credit to MSU-Billings," Few said. "They stepped up and hit some good shots to keep it close with that run late in the first half. They found some good matchups and hit their shots."

However, the Bulldogs had the break to collect themselves, and responded in due measure when play was restarted, opening the second half with a 16-5 run.

The senior forward Heytvelt hit a 3-pointer and scored five points during the burst, which was capped by two free throws by Daye for a 49-33 advantage with 12:40 remaining.

Coming off a tough junior campaign where he was limited by a stress fracture in his right foot, Heytvelt shot 5-of-9 from the field, grabbed eight boards and blocked three shots.

Matt Bouldin scored 12 points and Jeremy Pargo added seven and 10 assists for Gonzaga, which shot 48 percent (31-of-65) from the field and handed out 19 helpers.

"We have really worked on sharing the ball and we moved the ball around well tonight," Few said.

Micah Downs scored nine points and Steven Gray had seven for the Bulldogs, who ended up with nine players that netted at least six points.

"Our strength this season is going to be our depth and we shared the ball well tonight," Few said.

Hall finished with 24 points and five 3-pointers for Montana State-Billings, which was overwhelmed in the paint, getting outscored 42-18.