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Difference makers: Chet Holmgren, Julian Strawther spark Gonzaga’s win over USF

Chet Holmgren

Gonzaga’s freshman phenom simply took over at times. The 7-footer was a force at both ends of the court, racking up 21 points, 15 rebounds, six blocks and three steals. He had one turnover in 32 minutes. The talented big man had a pair of coast-to-coast drives, one he finished with a dunk and another with an acrobatic layup.

Julian Strawther

The second difference maker could easily go to Drew Timme (20 points, nine rebounds, career-high eight assists), but Julian Strawther shook off a hard first-half fall to finish with 15 points on 6-of-11 shooting and seven rebounds. The sophomore wing went for Gabe Stefanini’s pump-fake and tumbled hard on his lower back upon landing. He left the game for a minute or two before returning. He quickly hit a bank shot as GU padded its lead late in the half.

Key moment

Gonzaga turned a 45-39 lead into a 52-39 lead in a hurry late in the first half. Holmgren started the run by dribbling the length of the court for a two-handed dunk and Hunter Sallis hit a wing 3-pointer. Strawther hit a bank shot before USF’s Josh Kunen connected on a 3-pointer just before the buzzer to trim Gonzaga’s halftime lead to 52-42. The Zags carried the momentum into the second half, leading by as many as 20.