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Thornton Leads No. 1 Gonzaga With Quiet Style

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By Josh Barr
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Gonzaga point guard Tyler Thornton is considered one of the best sophomores in the Washington area, good enough that most of the East Coast's top college programs are recruiting him. Although few question his offensive talents, he averages just six points a game, taking few shots.

However, when Thornton does assert himself, it's easy to glimpse the brilliance that has college coaches enamored with him. Last night, Thornton scored just four points, but he had a pair of key assists that led to game-turning three-pointers as top-ranked Gonzaga pulled away for a 52-44 victory over sixth-ranked Carroll in a Washington Catholic Athletic Conference game at Gonzaga.

"He's gotten it done quietly," Gonzaga Coach Steve Turner said. "Some guys have been questioning, 'Where is his scoring, where is this, where is that?' But a lot of things Tyler does don't necessarily show up in the score sheet. The kid is mature beyond his years."

Thornton scored one basket last night on a terrific drive down the lane after beating his defender. He also cut toward the hoop and made a short jumper. While he otherwise rarely seemed aggressive, Thornton had his hand in three consecutive possessions that decided the outcome.

It was 26-26 late in the third quarter when Thornton threw an inbounds pass the length of the baseline and Cedrick Lindsay made a three-pointer from the right corner. Lindsay wasn't the first option on the play, Thornton said, but he noticed the defense had left Lindsay open on the far side of the court.

On Gonzaga's next possession, Thornton drove toward the basket, then passed to Max Kenyi for a three-pointer from the right wing. Thornton then made a steal that led to Wesley Dunning's layup and Gonzaga had a 34-26 lead that it never relinquished.

"That really got us going," said the 6-foot-2 Thornton, who started most of last season as a freshman. "My job is to communicate and make sure everybody knows where they are on the floor. It helps the game flow better for us. . . . I have two more years to show my ability on the offensive end as far as scoring the basketball. I'm in no rush."

Center Ian Hummer led Gonzaga (21-1, 12-1) with 15 points and nine rebounds, while forward Cam Johnson had 11 points and 10 rebounds as the Eagles moved closer to finishing first in the league.

Rodney McGruder led Carroll (12-7, 8-4) with 20 points and six rebounds.

No. 1 Gonzaga 52 No. 6 Carroll 44 Coach Hurt: While rushing off the bench in the third quarter to check on an injured player, Gonzaga Coach Steve Turner heard a pop that "sounded like a gun" and apparently injured his left Achilles' tendon. Turner's foot was taped by a team trainer after the game and he left the gymnasium on crutches, planning to see a doctor today. Two-Man Gang: Carroll's talented tandem of Kris Joseph and Rodney McGruder combined for 32 points, making 13 of 22 shots. Their teammates, however, were a combined 5 of 18. The Lions had 22 turnovers. No. 1 Gonzaga 52 No. 6 Carroll 44 Coach Hurt: While rushing off the bench in the third quarter to check on an injured player, Gonzaga Coach Steve Turner heard a pop that "sounded like a gun" and apparently injured his left Achilles' tendon. Turner's foot was taped by a team trainer after the game and he left the gymnasium on crutches, planning to see a doctor today. Two-Man Gang: Carroll's talented tandem of Kris Joseph and Rodney McGruder combined for 32 points, making 13 of 22 shots. Their teammates, however, were a combined 5 of 18. The Lions had 22 turnovers.


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