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Day after USF

OK, I was able to get some work done on the flight from Oakland to SeaTac. WIth a short break here at SeaTac, I’ve got a few minutes to post the day-after San Francisco post. First, the links:The S-R gamer (a longer version was posted last night — see prior post for that one), A.P., San Francisco Chronicle and roundups of all WCC games from Saturday night can be found here.

 Read on.


—Gonzaga’s free-throw shooting has been spotty all season. It’s actually been a tad worse in WCC play. The Bulldogs made 22 of 33 against USF for 66.7 percent – duplicating their season average (GU is 65.6 percent in conference play). Gonzaga was 1 of 7 in the first half, 17 of 19 in the second half and 4 of 7 in overtime. It would have been 4 of 8, but Grant Gibbs intentionally missed his second shot with 1.7 seconds left and was called for a lane violation. That goes down as a turnover in the stats.

USF was worse. The Dons made 14 of 25 (56 percent).

—Center Rob Sacre had his first double-figures scoring game in WCC play. Sacre scored 13 points – the last of which came with 17:43 remaining in the second half. He missed the only two shots he took the rest of the way.

“I had to be more aggressive,” he said. “I haven’t been this whole WCC season. I knew it was my time to pick it up.”

Head coach Mark Few was pleased to see Sacre’s increased offensive production, but still wants to see more on the glass. Sacre finished with just two rebounds in 30 minutes.

“He’s got to rebound for us to be as good as we can be,” Few said. “We found him early and we found him in transition. He did a good job posting up.”

—Gonzaga’s bench has been hit-or-miss most of the season. On Saturday, Gibbs was a hit, scoring eight points and grabbing four rebounds in 17 minutes. He made a clutch 3 that gave Gonzaga a 65-62 lead with 1:45 left in regulation. That lead looked like it might hold up, but USF’s Dior Lowhorn hit a 3-pointer with 9.8 seconds remaining. (Lowhorn, by the way, was 8 of 47 coming into the game, 5 of 7 vs. GU.)

“I was open, so I let it go,” said Gibbs, who was 0 of 3 on 3-pointers in WCC play entering Saturday’s game. “I haven’t taken a whole lot of those, but I have confidence I can make them.”

Will Foster provided a brief lift in his eight minutes. He made one basket and blocked a shot. He also found himself with the ball at the top of the key with nobody open, so the 7-foot-5 center took off on a dribble-drive to the hoop. He missed the shot, but drew Lowhorn’s third foul late in the first half. The play brought GU’s bench to its feet as well as many of the Zags’ fans in attendance. Foster missed both free throws.

Production was fairly quiet from the rest of the bench. USF’s reserves outscored GU’s 26-11.

“That’s one thing we’re struggling with,” Few said, “just the inconsistency off the bench. Manny (Arop) played good the other night and the other people didn’t. Tonight Grant played good and the other people really didn’t help us. We’re still trying to develop that a little bit.”

—Gonzaga hasn’t had its ‘A’ game for several weeks, but has managed to keep winning – until Saturday.

Afterward, the Bulldogs talked about playing with more energy and more effort.

 “I think everybody needs to get back to what they do well individually, and that helps us as a team,” Gibbs said.

Said Steven Gray: “We really have to start playing with a lot more energy and playing harder, and especially put more emphasis on defense and rebounding. We’ve kind of gotten away from that. That’s on us. We need to make a commitment to each other and know what we want to get done.”

—Gonzaga has five of its last seven WCC games at home, with showdowns against third-place Portland (5-2) on Thursday and co-leader Saint Mary’s (6-1) on Feb. 11.

“Hey, nothing’s sacred,” Few said of returning to the MAC. “We have to get back to playing harder, taking better care of the ball and stepping up and making our free throws.”

—Stats of note: Gonzaga didn’t commit a foul in the first 7:15, then picked up seven fouls in the next six minutes. The Bulldogs made 15 of 31 shots (48.4 percent) in the first half, 7 of 20 (35 percent) in the second half. The Dons hit 10 of 24 shots (41.7 percent) in the first half, 14 of 29 (48.3 percent) in the second half. Gonzaga was just 5 of 18 on 3s (Gray was 0 of 5, Matt Bouldin 1 of 5), USF was 11 of 24. Elias Harris, who played all 45 minutes, made both of his 3-point attempts while Bol Kong missed both of his 3s.

 

Gonzaga outrebounded its opponent for the 10th straight game. GU won the glass, 39-34, but was still outscored 13-11 in second-chance points.

 

Gonzaga’s 42.4-percent shooting was its worst since making 27.8 percent against Duke on Dec. 19th. It was GU’s third worst shooting performance of the season (35.7 percent vs. Michigan State).

 

QUOTEBOOK

Gibbs on GU’s recent play: “We’ve been kind of dodging bullets and taking everybody’s best shot, but we just couldn’t pull it together tonight. They (the Dons) deserve a lot of credit.”

Sacre on the team getting back on track: “We’ve been struggling recently, but no peaks no valleys. We can’t get too high off our best games and too low off our lowest games. We got beat by Duke by 40 and we overcame that. We’re not going to go into a drought here.”

Few on the loss: “The teams in this league are better. We’re on the road, we’re obviously the biggest game of the year (for opponents) and these teams are going to come out and play. We had our chances. USF stepped up and took care of business.”

Gray on Lowhorn: “He shot from 3 pretty well last year, so we knew he was capable. When he gets going, it’s going to be hard to stop him.”

Few on GU’s play of late: “We’ve been playing with fire a little bit. Everybody has been playing us tough. We’ve been able to make a lot of plays at the end of games. This time, San Francisco made some plays at the end.”


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