Mountaineers fall to No. 19 Gonzaga, 84-50


Mountaineers fall to No. 19 Gonzaga, 84-50

SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) West Virginia ended last season and started the new one the same way, with a loss to Gonzaga.

Gary Bell Jr. scored 15 points and No. 19 Gonzaga crushed the Mountaineers 84-50 Monday night.

``We're just not transferring what we do in drills to playing the game,'' said West Virginia coach Bob Huggins, whose team lost to the Zags in the NCAA tournament last spring. ``And we don't play the game the right way.''

``The first thing I think we need to do is we've got to find out who really wants to play and who doesn't. We don't compete.''

Gonzaga coach Mark Few was pleased that his team met the challenges posed by the Mountaineers.

``It's nice to be able to face that type of athleticism and physical play and that type of pressure and be able to function,'' Few said.

Guy Landry Edi added 14 points for Gonzaga (2-0), which shut down the Mountaineer shooters. Kevin Pangos scored 13 points, Elias Harris 11 and Mike Hart 10 for the Zags.

``The defense was really good today,'' Few said after Gonzaga forced 20 turnovers. ``That was a great performance by our guys.

``I was worried we might get exploited on the glass,'' Few said, but the Bulldogs won the rebound battle 38-36.

Aaric Murray led West Virginia (0-1) with 14 points, while Jabari Hinds added nine.

The Mountaineers shot just 27 percent from the field in the game and never got their offense untracked. They were 3 of 26 from 3-point range.

Gonzaga made only 4 of its first 15 shots, but led 15-2 after 8 minutes as West Virginia missed 9 of its first 10 shots. Sam Dower's stuff made it 21-6.

Gonzaga led 45-18 at halftime, thanks to 51 percent shooting that included 6 of 11 on 3-pointers.

Bell made consecutive baskets to push Gonzaga's lead to 34-12 with 4:44 left in the first half. At that point the Mountaineers had made 3 of 19 shots.

West Virginia shot only 21 percent in the first half, making 5 of 23 while committing 15 turnovers. They were only 1 of 13 from 3-point range.

The Mountaineers closed the gap a bit in the second half.

Matt Humphrey's steal and breakaway dunk cut Gonzaga's lead to 50-32 with 14:45 left. But Elias Harris replied with a 3-pointer for Gonzaga to push the lead back over 20.

Bell's basket for Gonzaga made it 68-37.

The schools' only other meeting was in the second round of the NCAA tournament last season, with Gonzaga winning 77-54. This was the first time the Mountaineers have played in the state of Washington.

Gonzaga opened the season with a 103-65 win over Southern Utah.

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Caps recall goalie Pheonix Copley after Braden Holtby 'tweaked something' in Dallas game


Caps recall goalie Pheonix Copley after Braden Holtby 'tweaked something' in Dallas game

You thought the Caps had a goalie rotation before, but now they have added a third netminder in the mix.

Pheonix Copley has been recalled from the Hershey Bears and will backup Philipp Grubauer for Washington's game in Detroit, the team announced Thursday.

The move comes in response to an injury concern for Braden Holtby.


Dallas Stars forward Remi Elie collided with Holtby midway through the third period on Tuesday as Holtby was extending to make a save. Holtby reacted awkwardly to the collision and could be seen skating and flexing his leg during the next stoppage.

With only nine games remaining in the regular season, Holtby's injury is a major concern. Given his recent struggles, the final few weeks of the season offered a chance for Holtby to get his game back to form. Just where his game will be when he is 100-percent healthy again is certainly a storyline to watch.


The good news for Washington, however, is that Grubauer is perhaps more ready this season to lead the team than he ever has been and confidence in him around the team should be high.

Since Thanksgiving, Grubauer has played in 22 games with a 17-11-4 record, a .939 save percentage, 1.85 GAA and two shutouts. No goalie who has played in 20 games or more has registered a better save percentage or GAA. He will certainly be looked upon to carry the load until Holtby returns. Whether this means he now has the inside track on starting in the playoffs, however, remains to be seen. That will depend largely on just when Holtby is ready to return and how Grubauer plays down the stretch.

Copley, 26, has gone 14-16-6 with two shutouts, a .898 save percentage and 2.86 GAA in 38 games in Hershey this season. He was originally signed as an undrafted free agent by Washington in 2014. He was traded to the St. Louis Blues in the package that netted the Caps T.J. Oshie, but was reacquired by Washington in Feb. 2017 in a trade deadline deal that included Kevin Shattenkirk.

At the time, it was believed Copley would be the team's backup for the 2017-18 season with Grubauer likely headed to Vegas in the expansion draft. Vegas, however, took Nate Schmidt instead which led to Copley spending the season in Hershey. The Caps now will be happy for the extra goalie depth for as long as Holtby's health remains a concern.

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Wizards to give fans Phil Chenier emoji signs and 1978 title shirts for special weekend

Washington Wizards

Wizards to give fans Phil Chenier emoji signs and 1978 title shirts for special weekend

This weekend was already going to be special for Washington Wizards fans. Now they will get souvenirs to remember it.

As part of their celebration of Phil Chenier's legendary career and the 40th anniversary of their 1978 NBA championship, the Wizards are handing out emoji signs on Friday night and commemorative t-shirts on Sunday. All fans in attendance will receive a giveaway.


The emoji sign has Chenier's face on it and will be handed out for the March 23 game against the Nuggets. Chenier will have his jersey retired at halftime during the game. 

The emoji sign is presented by NBC Sports Washington. You're welcome, Authentic Fans.


The shirts will be given out on Sunday when the Wizards host the New York Knicks. 

Here's the front...

And the back...

Let's take a closer look at that back...

As a reporter who has received many giveaways over the years at pro sports stadiums, these are uniquely awesome. Should be a great weekend for Wizards fans. See you at the arena.


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