First-place Gonzaga wary of second-place Dons
SAN FRANCISCO – The last time Gonzaga saw San Francisco, the Dons were exiting the McCarthey Athletic Center following a humbling 28-point loss.
That Dons team hasn’t been seen since. San Francisco (14-8, 7-3) has rattled off six wins in eight games to reach second in the WCC standings entering tonight’s rematch with the Bulldogs at War Memorial Gym.
Gonzaga snapped a three-game losing streak at War Memorial Gym last year with a 71-61 win. USF is 5-1 at home in conference, the lone loss against BYU. San Diego knocked Saint Mary’s (16-6, 6-3) out of second with a 61-43 win over the Gaels on Thursday.
“They’re a team that’s still in the hunt for first place,” Bulldogs coach Mark Few said. “That’s a place where we haven’t always played great.”
Gonzaga (19-3, 9-1) didn’t play great Wednesday but pulled out a 54-52 win over Santa Clara on Sam Dower Jr.’s 3-pointer with 1.9 seconds left. Dower took time to savor the shot but already had an eye on GU’s next game.
“We have one more to focus on and we haven’t played well there since I’ve been at Gonzaga,” said Dower, who has lifted his scoring average nearly two points in the last six games to 14.4. “We have to fix some things from Santa Clara. We need to get some rest and get back at it.”
The Dons defeated Portland 84-71 on Wednesday for their third straight win. Forwards Kruize Pinkins and Cole Dickerson, who combined for seven points in the first meeting against Gonzaga, teamed up for 41 points and 12 rebounds.
It’s a matchup of the top two shooting teams in the WCC. Gonzaga entered the week second nationally at 51.5 percent from the field but dropped to 50.8 after making 35 percent at Santa Clara. USF makes 48.6 percent of its shots and has been 50 percent or better 11 times.