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Updated: Friday, December 6, 2002 2:38 AM EST
NCAA BASKETBALL RECAP
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(25) Gonzaga 75, Montana 67
GONZAGA BULLDOGS
Gonzaga Bulldogs
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MONTANA GRIZZLIES
Montana Grizzlies
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MISSOULA, Montana (Ticker) -- Blake Stepp scored 22 points and Cory Violette added 17 as 25th-ranked Gonzaga rallied for a 75-67 victory over Montana.

For the second straight game, the Bulldogs (4-2) survived a potential scare that could have knocked them out of the rankings. Trailing 61-50 with eight minutes remaining, Stepp and Bankhead scored 22 points during a decisive 25-6 run.

On Monday, Gonzaga pulled out a 95-89 overtime win over Washington as Stepp converted eight free throws.

Montana (1-5), which lost to Michigan State, Loyola-Marymount and Alaska-Anchorage in the Great Alaska Shootout, had a 40-37 halftime lead and opened the second half with a 20-13 run.

Kevin Griswell scored 29 points to break Michael Ray Richardson's 1979 school freshmen record.

Griswell's steal and layup gave Montana an 11-point advantage. But Gonzaga began its run shortly thereafter and took the lead for good when Kyle Bankhead's 3-pointer made it 66-64 with 3:58 remaining.

"After 30 minutes, we were flabbergasted," Gonzaga coach Mark Few said. "I hate to see us play so fragile. We found players who wanted compete. Bankhead was huge for us, and he has not been shooting so great. We held them to 27 points in the second half, so we played well defensively in the last 20 minutes."

Bankhead started the run with a pair of 3-pointers and a dunk by Violette brought Gonzaga within 61-58 at the 7:06 mark.

After Ryan Pederson answered with a 3-pointer for Montana, Ronny Turiaf and Violette made layups and Bankhead hit from long range.

Montana went nearly 5 1/2 minutes without a basket before Derrick Mansell hit a meaningless 3-pointer with 27 seconds left.

Stepp made 4-of-8 3-pointers as the Bulldogs clicked at 52 percent (11-of-21) from the arc, making 6-of-7 after halftime.

Bankhead came off the bench and scored all of his 12 points in the second half and on 3-pointers. He made 4-of-5 from the arc, falling three points shy of a career high.

A 3-pointer by Stepp got Gonzaga within 46-42 early in the second half. But two 3-pointers by Criswell, a dunk and a 3-pointer by Steve Horne built Montana's lead to 57-47 with 12:37 to go.

"We did not get a lot of good looks in the second half," Montana coach Pat Kennedy said. "What happened was we just turned the ball over. That's killed us in the last few games. We can compete with a team like Gonzaga, but you can't make those kind of mistakes late in the game like we did."


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