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Gonzaga Basketball

Instant replay: Nigel Williams-Goss torches San Francisco again

Nigel Williams-Goss’ steal and layup didn’t please first-year San Francisco coach Kyle Smith.

Neither did Williams-Goss’ bank shot while drawing a foul. That was followed by his dribble penetration into the lane, another basket and another Dons’ foul. The three-point play essentially eliminated any remaining suspense in the second half.

Smith turned toward his bench, raised his arms in a helpless manner and slowly shook his head.

This was a replay Smith had seen before and he already knew the ending.

Williams-Goss took over against the Dons again, pouring in 30 points in the Zags’ 96-61 victory Thursday. A month and a half ago, the junior guard had a career-high 36 points in a 95-80 win in San Francisco.

“I think it just worked out like that,” Williams-Goss said almost sheepishly when asked about the matchup. “We’ve played them twice, I’ve had two pretty good games.”

Williams-Goss was far more eager to talk about center Przemek Karnowski, who overpowered defenders inside for 23 points.

The big man made 7 of 11 field-goal attempts, most coming within three feet of the basket. Karnowski spent quite a bit of time at the free-throw line (9 of 10). USF center Matt McCarthy fouled out in 18 minutes.

“Best center in the country, it’s as simple as that,” Williams-Goss said. “When you play him 1 on 1, I don’t think anyone in the country can guard him. Przemek has been huge for us all year. He makes all of our jobs easier.

“We’re going to keep feeding him. We’re going to go as far as he takes us.”

It’s probably safe to start engraving Williams-Goss’ name on the WCC player of the year award. He’s rising on many of the straw polls for national player of the year.

Funny thing is, this didn’t look like his night early. The 6-foot-3 junior missed his first two shots and then fumbled the ball out of bounds. He had three turnovers in the first 11 minutes.

A corner 3-pointer seemed to settle Williams-Goss into a comfort zone. When he’s hitting from distance, it has the added benefit of opening up driving lanes, and that’s where Williams-Goss often does his most damage.

He hit another corner 3 late in the half and another one 70 seconds into the second half. His next five buckets came on dribble penetration.

The Dons tried man-to-man and zone defenses. They couldn’t keep Williams-Goss out of the paint and couldn’t cover him beyond the 3-point arc. Part of that, as Williams-Goss mentioned, was due to Karnowski’s presence in the lane.

In two games against the Dons, Williams-Goss is 22 of 29 from the field, 7 of 10 on 3s, 15 of 15 at the free-throw line. He’s also found time to grab 18 rebounds and hand out 10 assists.

Those numbers won’t sit well with USF’s Smith, but they’re fine with Zags coach Mark Few.

“He’s a really focused individual that doesn’t leave anything to chance,” Few said. “Very organized in everything he does in his life.”