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Gonzaga improves to 10-0 in WCC

Back with an expanded game story. The unedited version is below. Check back tomorrow for a day-after post.

 

By Jim Meehan

Staff writer

SAN FRANCISCO – For significant stretches of the first half, Gonzaga couldn’t stop turning the ball over. For long stretches of the second half, the Bulldogs had no defensive answer for San Francisco’s 3-point shooters.

As a result, the 19th-ranked Bulldogs were nursing a one-point lead with 10 minutes left against the upset-minded Dons. Gonzaga finally put together an impressive stretch, using a 16-4 spurt to subdue the feisty Dons 78-73 in front of 3,367 Saturday at War Memorial Gym.  

Gonzaga (19-5, 10-0 West Coast Conference), which defeated USF by 34 in Spokane a month ago, hiked its WCC lead to three games over Portland, which lost to Saint Mary’s.

San Francisco (9-17, 1-10) dropped its fourth straight, but made Gonzaga work to maintain its unbeaten WCC record.

“When you’re on the road, you have to come out with extra focus,” said Austin Daye, who had 13 of his team-high 17 points in the final 8:50. “We didn’t have a lot of focus on what we were doing tonight.”

The Zags led 57-51 after Matt Bouldin’s pull-up jumper, but San Francisco responded with Dior Lowhorn’s two free throws and Blake Wallace’s 3-pointer. Wallace, whose only other double-figures game in conference came against GU last month, drained another 3 – making him 4 of 4 from long distance at that point – to narrow GU’s lead to 61-59 with 8:26 left.

The Bulldogs scored the next nine points. Daye hit a 3-pointer and reserve guard Demetri ‘Meech’ Goodson, who carried Gonzaga in the first half, made 1 of 2 free throws. Jeremy Pargo’s 3-pointer and short jumper in the lane put the Zags up by 11.

Daye’s three-point play bumped GU’s lead to 13 with 3:44 remaining, but the Bulldogs committed three late turnovers. USF buried three more 3s, the last trimming Gonzaga’s lead to 77-73 with 4.6 seconds left. Daye, who scored Gonzaga’s last eight points, made 1 of 2 free throws and the Dons misfired on a 3-pointer just before the buzzer sounded.

“This time we made some free throws at the end, but, again, we made a couple of errors that gave them life,” Gonzaga head coach Mark Few said.

Goodson scored 12 of his career-high 13 points in the first half. He made his first 3-pointer of the season, and followed that up with another 3 about 90 seconds later. Pargo added 12 points, Bouldin 11 and Josh Heytvelt 10. Micah Downs, who returned to the starting lineup in place of Steven Gray, added eight points.

The Zags shot 60 percent from the field, their best percentage since making 65.4 percent against Loyola Marymount last season. They finished with 16 turnovers – four each by Daye, Heytvelt and Pargo.

“We were really efficient – if we didn’t turn the ball over,” Few said. “Meech was great. He saved us.”

GU committed turnovers on its first four possessions. The Bulldogs had 12 turnovers in the first half, but still led 41-37 at the break. Eighteen of USF’s 37 points came off GU turnovers.

Lowhorn scored 15 of his 23 points in the first half. Wallace made 5 of 6 3-pointers and finished with 19 points. The Dons, minus four suspended players for the second straight game, were 14 of 22 on 3-pointers, including 9 of 12 in the second half.

“To go 14 of 22, I don’t care if they’re standing out there by themselves, that’s amazing considering they were 5 of 26 (against Portland),” Few said. “We got caught over-helping way to much and that led to some of them.”

USF was 1 of 14 on 2-point attempts in the second half.

“It felt like they made every 3 they shot,” Goodson said. “We made some dumb plays down the stretch (with) turnovers, leaving shooters. We just have to play smarter, but I’m just happy we got a road sweep.”

 

 




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Jim Meehan
Jim Meehan's coverage areas include Gonzaga University men's basketball, Spokane Shock football, golf and volleyball. He also contributes to the SportsLink Blog.

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