Zags fall to the '3'
SEATTLE (AP) - Illinois coach Bruce Weber was looking for a little inspiration, so he talked to his team about a trip to Michigan State during the 2004-05 season.
"We scored 12 straight possessions," Weber recalled of that day. "People called it 'The Clinic' and people still talk about that, how efficient we were. Today it wasn't quite that good but it was sure a good run of good basketball."
The No. 20 Illini used a big second-half run fueled by 3-pointers to blow past Gonzaga, 73-61 on Saturday. D.J. Richardson and Mike Tisdale each scored 15 points, and Demetri McCamey had 11 points and seven assists for the Illini.
"When the game is going on you don't realize it, but they were pretty open 3s," said Weber, whose team scored 10 of its first 11 baskets from beyond the arc in the second half. "We have good shooters if we pick and choose when we shoot them - if they're open shots."
Tisdale started the surge with a pair of 3-pointers that broke open a 34-28 game, and the Illini (8-1) proceeded to use a 14-3 run to take a 62-44 advantage.
Illinois finished 52 percent from beyond the arc for the game.
The Illini defense also was able to frustrate the Gonzaga offense, holding Stephen Gray to just two points until midway through the second half. A year ago, Gray had 20 points in an 85-83 overtime victory over Illinois in Chicago.
Robert Sacre provided the only scoring threat for the Bulldogs (4-3) during the Illini's big second-half run. He scored nine straight points to help Gonzaga stay in the game, and finished with 15 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Bulldogs.
"We had four guys on the same page and one guy or two that wasn't on the same page," Gonzaga coach Mark Few said. "Then they got going and got on a roll and we didn't adjust."
Mike Davis scored in the lane to break a streak of six straight 3-pointers and give the Illini a 67-47 edge. Gonzaga answered with a 10-0 run, but Richardson scored on a floater in the lane and Illinois was able to grind out the remaining minutes for the victory.
Brandon Paul scored 12 points and Davis added 10 for Illinois.
"Not too many teams are going to do that," Tisdale said of the outside shooting. "Tonight we were just on fire. They left us open in a few spots and we took advantage."
Elias Harris checked into the game at the 15:25 mark of the first half after missing a game against Eastern Washington with an Achilles' injury. He immediately made an impact, driving the lane and getting a quick basket to knot the game at 10-10. But Harris' stamina was lacking and he appeared to run out of gas at times.
Harris finished with 12 points, all coming in the first half.
"We were just trying to get him in and out but we had foul trouble," Few said. "He's only practiced probably a week when everyone else has probably practiced 10 weeks. ... It's going to take time so he's totally comfortable."