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Gonzaga, San Francisco set for crucial matchup for 2nd place in WCC

Nearly a month ago, Gonzaga and San Francisco met at War Memorial Gym to break a second-place tie in the West Coast Conference men’s basketball standings.

They’ll do it again today at 5 p.m. at the McCarthey Athletic Center.

San Francisco won the first meeting, handing GU the second loss in a three-game skid that dropped the Bulldogs into a tie for fourth place midway through the conference schedule. Gonzaga (18-9, 8-3 WCC) has been digging its way out since, winning five straight conference games to pull even with the Dons (14-12, 8-3) and a game behind first-place Saint Mary’s (22-5, 10-2) in the loss column.

“They’ve had a great year,” Gonzaga coach Mark Few said. “Very skilled at the guard spot, very deadly from the 3-point line and adept at driving, much like some of the teams we’ve had in the past, and drawing and kicking.

“They’re kind of the surprise of the league. They’re playing with confidence, if anybody saw the game down there, and feeling good about themselves.”

San Francisco has relied on balance (six players averaging at least eight points per conference game) and a knack for winning close WCC games (6-1 in outcomes decided by single digits). Gonzaga is 1-2 in conference games decided by five points or less. The Dons had five players score at least 15 points in a 96-91 overtime win against Gonzaga last month.

USF, playing without center Perris Blackwell (flu), broke from a tie at 66 with a 16-7 run to close out Portland 82-73 on Thursday. Angelo Caloiaro and Michael Williams each had 18 points. San Francisco and Gonzaga are the only teams to beat Portland at the Chiles Center this season.

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