Hyattsville -- In the waning seconds of the WCAC contest between the Gonzaga Purple Eagles and the DeMatha Stags, Terrance Williams grabbed the last of his ten rebounds and held tight as he was fouled and flashed a bright smile as he rasied his arms to get the Gonzaga faithful on their feet one last time. After he canned his two free throws the two student sections exchanged jeers, Gonzaga chanting "This is our house", DeMatha responding with "See you next time".
"It's definitely special," Williams said. "I had to get the Gonzaga student section lit."
In the sold-out LT (SEAL ) Brendan Looney ' 99 Convocation Center, the electric atmosphere was the perfect backdrop for the 72-61 Gonzaga victory. After a tough loss to PVI on Tuesday, the Purple Eagles were led by 40 combined points from Myles Dread (18 points) and Terrence Williams (22 points, 10 boards) in a bounce back win before heading to the Hoophall Classic this weekend. Justin Moore (19 points) and transfer Earl Timberlake (16 points) also contributed for Turner’s Eagles.
The emergence of the 2020 class for Gonzaga was evident all night as Chuck Williams contributed six assists along with 10 points while Myles Stute contributed six of his own points. Coach Stephen Turner has been able to rely on the super trio as well as the heart and soul of the team in Dread.
Throughout the night Turner drew up plays for his guys to exploit matchups on the perimeter or deep in the paint. In one instance, Stute had guard Justin Gielen switched on him deep in the paint and Stute easily elevated for a hook. On another series Turner drew up an elevator play to get Dread open in the right corner for a 3-pointer that got him going in a pivotal third quarter. It was just what the senior needed after a rough first half, the first 16 minutes of the game had Dread score only once on a 3-pointer but had four turnovers, all forced by Earl Timberlake who was in his pocket for most of the night. In the final two frames Dread scored 16 of his 18 points.
"Coach just told me stay confident in myself," Dread said. "I put too many hours into stop shooting. I stuck to what I know, stayed with my form, and made shots."
Another interesting battle ensued between 5-star 2020 center Hunter Dickinson (13 points) and the aforementioned Williams. The two sophomores guarded each other throughout the night, with Williams striking early often, including three straight 3-pointers in Dickinson's face, on the last one Williams made sure his adversary knew about it too.
"When we're on the court we're at each other’s neck," Williams said. " I was at his neck tonight and I let him know."
After a pretty even first half that ended with a 31-30 lead for Gonzaga, the Purple Eagles ended the third frame on a 5-0 run and an 8-point 63-55 lead, the biggest advantage of the game. The Stags would punch back when Joshua Wallace brought it to as close as 65-60 when he converted a 3-point play midway in the final quarter. On the ensuing possession Dread would hit a layup and then Terrance Williams would ice the game with four free throws.
"They can handle adversity," Head Coach Stephen Turner said. "My challenge to them was --we gotta come back and compete. If nothing else we gotta come back hard and compete. Tonight I felt like they competed and they led us to a victory."
In the words of Myles Dread, "just another game".