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Johnathan Williams comes through in clutch as Gonzaga beats Pacific

Gonzaga’s Johnathan Williams (3) is fouled driving to the basket by Pacific’s Jack Williams, center, during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Dec. 31, 2016, in Stockon, Calif. Gonzaga won 81-61. (Marcio Jose Sanchez / Associated Press)
Gonzaga’s Johnathan Williams (3) is fouled driving to the basket by Pacific’s Jack Williams, center, during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Dec. 31, 2016, in Stockon, Calif. Gonzaga won 81-61. (Marcio Jose Sanchez / Associated Press)

STOCKTON, Calif. – Zags junior forward Johnathan Williams hit a rough patch recently, only reaching double figures once in the previous eight games. He broke out in a big way, pouring in 14 points in the final eight minutes Saturday as Gonzaga shook off a slow start to win 81-61 over the Pacific Tigers.

“It was nice to see because he was struggling and not playing with much confidence, just not playing with much zest,” coach Mark Few said. “Good to see him play with some fire and make some shots and get some swag going.”

Williams was scoreless before making a layup off a Przemek Karnowski pass to give Gonzaga a 57-45 lead. He put up video-game numbers after that, connecting on a layup, two free throws, a jump hook and a couple of 3-pointers.

The two free throws came after he pulled down a rebound in traffic and was fouled by Pacific’s Jack Williams. The two players had a stare-down for a moment before they were separated. In the aftermath, Gonzaga reserve Dustin Triano was assessed a technical foul.

“No, it didn’t really get me going,” GU’s Williams said. “Stuff like that sometimes happens. You have to know how to handle it and move on from it.”

Williams picked an ideal game to heat up. Williams and Pacific coach Damon Stoudamire, a former Memphis Grizzlies player and ex-Memphis Tigers assistant coach, attended the same church in Memphis and “we’re pretty good friends.”

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