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Zags sidestep Broncos

Santa Clara crowd assists Gonzaga in 71-63 victory

SANTA CLARA, Calif. – The only thing similar to the first meeting was the fact that Gonzaga won.

Other than that, the Bulldogs were pushed throughout by Santa Clara before using a couple of late surges – and a helping hand or two from a rowdy crowd at the Leavey Center – to hold off the Broncos 81-73 Thursday at Santa Clara, Calif., in men’s basketball.

No. 17 Gonzaga (22-5, 13-0 West Coast Conference) won its 20th straight regular-season conference game. The Bulldogs, who handed Santa Clara its worst loss in school history (95-43 in January in Spokane), can earn their third unbeaten WCC season in six years with a win at San Diego on Saturday.

Senior center Josh Heytvelt poured in 29 points, breaking the career high of 28 he set in Saturday’s win over Pepperdine.

Both teams shot lights out for the first 30 minutes as Santa Clara took a 53-50 lead. The Bulldogs scored the next six points and a few minutes later added a 9-0 run to pull in front 67-58.

During the latter spurt, Santa Clara was hit with a


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