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Updated: Saturday, December 13, 2003 6:38 PM EST
NCAA BASKETBALL RECAP
(18) Gonzaga 87, (4) Missouri 80 (ot)

SEATTLE (Ticker) -- The Battle in Seattle was one to remember, especially for Ronny Turiaf and Gonzaga.

In one of college basketball's best early-season games, the 18th-ranked Bulldogs rallied behind Turiaf and a boisterous KeyArena crowd, then held off fourth-ranked Missouri, 87-80, in overtime.

Gonzaga (7-1) trailed all of the first half, then came back from five points down with 3:40 left in regulation and four back with 2:59 to go in overtime, scoring the final eight points en route to its seventh straight win.

Turiaf led the charge on both ends of the floor. With his trademark afro, the 6-10 junior scored 21 of his 23 points after halftime, contested shots and rebounded while battling foul trouble.

A native of Martinique, Turiaf hit a jump shot for an 81-80 lead with 61 seconds remaining and drew an offensive foul on the ensuing possession. The Bulldogs made all six of their free throw attempts in the closing 31 seconds to seal the victory.

"I think it feels good to play in that type of game," Turiaf said. "But we could've done a better job to not go into overtime."

Gonzaga point guard Blake Stepp compared the game to the team's thrilling 96-95 double-overtime loss to Arizona in the second round of last season's NCAA Tournament.

"It was definitely one you'll remember," he said. "It had that Arizona feel to it, with both teams going back and forth. The crowd was crazy. This is what you go to schools like this to do."

Missouri guard Rickey Paulding sent the game to overtime, burying a 3-pointer with 10 seconds left in the second half to tie it at 73-73. He struggled with his shot all day, but made three 3-pointers in the final 5:46 of regulation.

Turiaf got more help than Paulding, especially from Stepp, who totaled 14 points, eight rebounds and 10 assists. Turiaf added a pair of blocks.

"The beauty of these two guys is that they welcome that," Gonzaga coach Mark Few said. "How many guys really want to get up in the bottom of the ninth with two outs and the bases loaded? These two guys like and relish that."

Turiaf won the tip in overtime, but Josh Kroenke and Paulding hit 3-pointers as the Tigers grabbed a 79-75 lead with 2:59 remaining. They scored just one more point, missing their last five shots, all by Paulding.

"We started off the overtime strong and I thought we were going to win it in OT," said Missouri coach Quin Snyder, a McDonald's All-American in his days at nearby Mercer Island High School.

Paulding scored 23 points, but was just 8-of-29 from the field. He made 5-of-13 attempts from 3-point range and added seven rebounds, five assists and four steals.

After Turiaf's go-ahead jumper with 61 seconds to play, Paulding missed a wild one-handed dunk over Gonzaga's star forward after losing control of the ball. Turiaf then drew an offensive foul on Jimmy McKinney.

"I was just trying to make a play at the basket and I lost control of it a little bit," said Paulding, who also stepped out of bounds with 13 seconds left and Missouri trailing, 83-80. "That was just one of the tough breaks that we had tonight."

Adam Morrison, Kyle Bankhead and Stepp each made two free throws in the closing 31 seconds, sealing the so-called neutral site victory at KeyArena, which featured a raucous pro-Gonzaga crowd.

"It was awesome," Stepp said. "I was hoping it was going to be like this. I knew a lot of people were having a hard time getting over here. It got really loud in here. It was just like the Kennel, only five times bigger."

The loss closed a difficult week for the Tigers, who are under investigation by the NCAA. The investigation intensified following the claims former guard Ricky Clemons made, alleging he, Paulding and Arthur Johnson received money from a pair of assistant coaches on Wednesday.


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