INGLEWOOD, California (Ticker) -- After sweeping a three-game
homestand, Gonzaga travels to The Forum for a meeting with No.
16 Fresno State in the Fab Four Classic on Thursday night.
Gonzaga (6-2) defeated Arkansas-Pine Bluff, Portland State and
Eastern Washington at home and has not lost since a 72-63
setback to Marquette in the final of the Great Alaska Shootout.
Marquette was not ranked at the time, but is now No. 21. Gonzaga
reached the final game by posting a 67-64 victory over then No.
24 Texas. The Bulldogs' only other loss this season came in
their season opener at Illinois, which was ranked No. 2 at the time.
Gonzaga rallied from a 16-point halftime deficit Tuesday and
extended its home winning streak to 17 games with an 84-74
triumph over intrastate foe Eastern Washington. Blake Stepp
opened the extra session by making three free throws and the
Bulldogs never trailed thereafter.
Stepp made 38 straight starts before sitting out last Thursday's
win over Arkansas-Pine Bluff with a sprained ankle. He also
missed Saturday's contest against Portland State and finished
with 10 points in 28 minutes off the bench Tuesday.
Gonzaga's starting guards Dan Dickau and Kyle Bankhead combined
for 33 points, making 10-of-16 3-pointers, against Eastern
Fresno State (7-1) has reeled off five straight wins since its
only loss of the season, a tough 62-61 setback to Wake Forest in
the semifinals of the Preseason NIT on November 21.
Also nicknamed the Bulldogs, Fresno State has not allowed more
than 65 points since a season-opening 92-70 pounding of Montana
State on November 13. Melvin Ely returned to the lineup Tuesday
and recorded 22 points and seven rebounds to lead Fresno State
to a 75-65 victory over San Francisco.
Ely, the preseason Western Athletic Conference Player of the
Year, sat out last weekend's McCaffrey Classic due to a possible
NCAA rules violation for accepting extra benefits from an agent.
He was cleared to play by the NCAA hours before Tuesday's
Gonzaga has won two of three all-time meetings with Fresno
State. In the most recent matchup, Fresno State posted a 77-76
victory in the title game of the Coors Light Classic on November