Nine years ago, the people at Comcast collaborated with the Gonzaga Bulldogs to produce the annual “Battle In Seattle”, a neutral site game held at KeyArena, heavily littered with fans of the squad from Spokane.
While the sponsor name has changed over the years, with State Farm now holding down the roll of title sponsor, the anticipation and electricity in KeyArena for this annual event remains, as to does the rich history of the event, proving that support for basketball in the Northwest corner of the US is alive and kicking.
Although the game is tabbed as a neutral site game, the Bulldogs “home away from home” has been kind to the WCC favorite, as the Zags have captured nine victories in fourteen visits to the Key, including a 5-4 record in the Battle in Seattle.
1. #17 Gonzaga vs. #3 Missouri (2003)
In front of almost 13,000 fans, the Bulldogs left KeyArena with a thrilling 87-80 overtime victory over the Tigers, thanks in large part to their starting big man.
After being held on only a single basket in the first half, Ronny Turiaf came alive after the break to drop 21 of his team high 23 points (matching Missuouri’s Rickey Paulding).
Having to comeback from five points down in regulation and four in the extra period, the Zags proved that they could battle against the elite teams in the NCAA.
2. #2 Connecticut vs. #7 Gonzaga (2008)
Another OT thriller at the Key. At a time in which Kemba Walker was just a pup, the Huskies need a pair of twenty plus point efforts from guards AJ Price (24) and Jerome Dyson (21) to knock off a well balanced Bulldogs offense which featured four players hitting for double digits, led by Steven Grey’s 23 points.
With nearly 17,000 fans in attendance, hoop fans in Seattle reminded the rest of the world that they are fully capable of supporting a franchise.
3. #24 Nevada vs. Gonzaga (2006)
The fourth annual Battle marked the first loss for the Bulldogs at KeyArena, falling 82-74 to the Wolfpack. Holding a fourteen point lead during the first half, fans felt that a fifth straight victory was in the bag. Led by Nick Fazekas’ 24 points and 21 from Marcellus Kemp, a product of Seattle, the Wolfpack turned an improbable comeback into reality.
Shooting nearly 50% from the field throughout the game, the Bulldogs could not seal the deal as the Wolfpack used a eight rebound difference and 57% second half shooting to walk away with the victory.
Jeremy Pargo led four of the five Zaga starters who posted 10 or more points with a team high 18.
4. #11 Gonzaga vs. Oklahoma State (2005)
Adam Morrison parted Spokane with his name on numerous team records, and in his final Battle, he made sure that his mark was left in KeyArena as well.
In a not overly impressive shooting display by the “home” team, hitting only 39% on the night, it was the final shot that mattered the most.
The Stache, who hit only five of his previous thirteen shots, stared down two Cowboy defenders with minimal time left on the clock.
Despite the noise of 13,000 fans, only Morrison and the outstretched defender know for sure if “bank” was called as the Bulldogs left the court with a 64-62 comeback victory.
5. Gonzaga vs. Arizona (2011)
Having recently fallen from the top 25, the Bulldogs were looking to find a stepping stone back to the NCAA elite rankings, and for thirty of the forty minutes, Gonzaga had left their mark all over the Wildcats.
Despite a decisive edge in rebounds and trips to the line, the Bulldogs still left the visitors hope.
Even though they only hit three of twenty attempts from downtown and twenty of thirty-two from the line, Gonzaga used all of Elias Harris‘ 17 first half points to open up a dominating eighteen point halftime lead.
Holding the Wildcats scoreless for the first five minutes of the game, the fans prepared for a Bulldog romp, but a twelve point second half effort by Arizona guard Kyle Fogg made the game a lot closer than Mark Few and the rest of the Bulldogs expected coming out of the locker room in the second half.