SAN DIEGO – Killian Tillie scored a team-best 17 points as No. 6 Gonzaga overcame a mid-game offensive lull to grit out a 77-72 victory against San Diego on Thursday at the Jenny Craig Pavilion.
With the victory, Gonzaga secured at least a share of the West Coast Conference regular-season title for the sixth season in a row.
Tillie was one of five Gonzaga players to finish in double figures scoring, including Rui Hachimura (16), Johnathan Williams (11), Josh Perkins (10) and Corey Kispert (10). Williams also grabbed nine rebounds, falling one board short of his seventh straight double-double.
After the Bulldogs (26-4, 16-1 WCC) jumped out to an early lead, San Diego punched back to take the lead for a near 20-minute stretch between the first and second halves.
Olin Carter III once again had his way with the Zags defense, scoring a game-high 21 points for San Diego (17-12, 8-9). Carter III also poured in 21 in the Toreros’ trip to Spokane earlier this month.
Gonzaga finished the game shooting 43.6 percent from the floor and 47.1 percent from 3-point range, while USD shot 41.4 percent overall and 33.3 percent from deep.
Gonzaga also forced 11 turnovers, while committing nine of its own.
The Bulldogs will look to claim the outright WCC title on Saturday with a victory at BYU. Tip is scheduled for 5 p.m. on ESPN2.
Final – Gonzaga 77, San Diego 72: Not a pretty 20-minute stretch in the middle of this one for the Bulldogs, but they grit out a victory in the end.
Four players score in double figures, led by Tillie’s 17 points.
The win also means Gonzaga clinches at least a share of the WCC regular-season title for the sixth season in a row. Either a Saint Mary’s loss or a win Saturday at BYU will give GU the title alone.
0:26 – Gonzaga 70, San Diego 67: Every time GU tries to pull away, San Diego has an answer. Massive 3 there from Carter and Gonzaga’s lead is down to three points with under 30 seconds to go. Gonzaga ball.
1:16 – Gonzaga 67, San Diego 60: What a stretch here for Hachimura.
The sophomore is up to 14 points and Gonzaga is starting to pull away from San Diego.
2:27 – Gonzaga 63, San Diego 60: Rui and Williams both into double figures for Gonzaga. Williams also one rebound away from his seventh straight double-double, but he does have four fouls.
3:58 – Gonzaga 59, San Diego 58: When one team hits, the other hits back harder.
Rough night for GU’s Norvell, but he converts on a clutch and-one play to put GU on top, but no lead has lasted for long in these closing minutes.
Rui Hachimura gives GU the lead back with a pair of free throws, and then gets a big steal on the next possession. He has eight points.
San Diego up to 10 turnovers in the game, while the Zags have nine.
Both teams also in the bonus for the rest of the game.
7:59 – San Diego 53, Gonzaga 52: Olin Carter III hits a jumper to put San Diego back ahead. Both defenses really clamping down as this one gets closer to the finish.
10:28 – Gonzaga 52, San Diego 51: Back-to-back triple from Kispert and Tillie put the Bulldogs back on top for the first time in about 15 minutes of play.
Tillie now with a game-high 15, while Kispert is also into double figures with 10 points.
11:44 – San Diego 51, Gonzaga 46: Killian Tillie the first Gonzaga player into double figures with 12 points. Meanwhile four USD players have hit that mark.
Bulldogs doing a much better job on defense in the last four minutes, keeping GU within striking distance.
Zags now shooting 41 percent from the field and 46 percent from deep. San Diego hitting at a 49 percent mark overall and 46 percent from 3.
15:33 – San Diego 48, Gonzaga 42: A pair of circus shots fall to start the half for San Diego’s Isaiah Wright, as he’s now up to 11 points.
Massalski also with a quick bucket, as he’s the first player on the floor to reach double figures.
Josh Perkins knocks down a triple for GU, but San Diego just isn’t cooling off.
Tillie also gets going for the Zags. The sophomore finishes with contact at the rim for a three-point play.
Gonzaga switches back into a man defense, but starts pressing in the full court for the first time this game. Out of sorts a bit on the defensive end, Melson is called for his fourth personal foul and heads to the bench.
Halftime – San Diego 37, Gonzaga 34: Both Melson and Williams get some time near the end of the half and avoid picking up a third foul.
San Diego with a very good half. Forcing GU into tough shots on offense, while shooting well (50 percent overall).
Bulldogs make the switch to a zone defense over the final few minutes with several players in foul trouble, but it hasn’t stopped the trio of Pineiro, Carter and Yauhen Massalski from scoring nine points apiece for San Diego.
Teams go into the half on an off-balance jumper from Williams to cut the San Diego lead to three. He has seven points, as does Kispert. Bulldogs shoot just 35 percent from the floor and 42 percent from deep in the half. Also just four assists so far for Gonzaga.
4:18 – San Diego 30, Gonzaga 27: With Melson on the bench, Kispert is getting a few more minutes and taking advantage of it.
The freshman from Seattle is up to seven points to lead the Zags. Tillie follows up a 3-pointer from Kispert with a triple of his own.
San Diego’s Pineiro nearing doube figures with nine points. USD’s Olin Carter III hits his second triple of the game to put the Toreros on top, forcing Gonzaga coach Mark Few to take a timeout.
7:54 – Gonzaga 21, San Diego 17: Whistles seems to be pretty quick in this one. Williams picks up his second and will head to the bench, likely for the rest of the half. Melson also picks up his second foul.
Tillie finally on the board with a nice floater on the baseline, but GU struggling from the floor, shooting just 33 percent.
San Diego also up to seven turnovers, but shooting 55 percent.
11:53 – Gonzaga 14, San Diego 11: Not the best start for GU’s Killian Tillie, who is 0 for 4 from the field, including a missed 3-pointer.
The Toreros’ best shot to pull the upset will come via a low-scoring contest. San Diego has one of the better defenses in the West Coast Conference.
Bulldogs haven’t quite got it going on the offensive end, but have played solid defense, forcing five USD turnovers.
Isaiah Pineiro is up to seven points for the Toreros. Corey Kispert and Rui Hachimura have two points apiece for GU.
15:44 – Gonzaga 10, San Diego 6: Huge baseline slam by Johnathan Williams is followed by a deep Silas Melson 3-pointer – and just like that Gonzaga is off and running.
Another slick move in the post from Williams gives him four early points. Zach Norvell also hits his first triple of the game as GU is shooting good in the opening stretch.