LAS VEGAS – Mark Few and Jared Brownridge don’t need introductions.
“Seems like we’ve played him 30 times,” Gonzaga’s head coach said of the Santa Clara senior guard who ranks fourth on the WCC’s all-time scoring list.
It’s actually only been nine times, but the 6-foot-3 Brownridge has been a starter and a scorer since arriving on SCU’s campus four years ago.
The 10th encounter comes Monday night in the WCC tournament semifinals. A victory would send the top-seeded Zags (30-1) to the championship game for the 20th consecutive year.
Brownridge has led Santa Clara (17-15) in scoring in each of his four seasons, but he’s had mixed results against the Zags. He averaged 18 points in two-regular season losses to GU by a combined 66 points. Santa Clara is 0-9 against the Zags during his career.
“It’s just another game,” said Brownridge, who scored 28 points to guide the fourth-seeded Broncos past No. 5 San Francisco 76-69 on Saturday. “It’s all about preparation. All we have to do is be ready to lock in and be ready for what (the coaches) tell us.”
Gonzaga’s offense rebounded from a rugged first half with 55 points in the second half of Saturday’s 82-50 victory over Pacific. Jordan Mathews and Nigel Williams-Goss combined for 42 points on 14-of-22 shooting.
The Zags reached the 30-win plateau for the third time in five seasons.
“Thirty wins is hard to get to in college basketball,” Few said. “You have to start winning in November and keep winning all the way through. These guys deserve a lot of credit for the type of year they’re having.”
The Broncos knocked down 10 3-pointers, three by forward Nate Kratch, against USF. Guard Matt Hauser added 10 points and forward Jarvis Pugh, who recently returned from a 14-game absence due to a stress reaction in his foot, chipped in 12 points and six rebounds.
Point guard KJ Feagin (concussion), a second-team All-WCC selection who averages 14.6 points and 4.4 assists, did not play against the Dons. Coach Herb Sendek said he didn’t know if Feagin would be available Monday.
“They’re a gritty, tough team that seems like they’ve discovered a nice way to have success with those guards,” Few said. “They’re spreading you out and shooting a lot of 3s. We have to do a great job guarding the 3-point line.”
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