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Gonzaga-USF game to be held at Warriors’ Chase Center on Feb. 29

The Gonzaga Bulldogs practice before the Bulldogs’ Sweet 16 matchup against the Arkansas Razorbacks on Wednesday Mar 23, 2022, at Chase Center in San Francisco, Calif.  (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)

In the past, Gonzaga’s marquee nonconference schedules and NCAA Tournament runs have routinely taken the Bulldogs to various NBA arenas.

The Bulldogs will be returning to one of those venues in February, potentially with big West Coast Conference implications on the line.

Gonzaga’s final road trip in conference play will start with a Feb. 29 game against San Francisco at the Golden State Warriors’ Chase Center, an 18,000-seat venue that opened in 2019.

The Bulldogs and Dons will tip off at 8 p.m. in downtown San Francisco. The game will air nationally on ESPN2. Gonzaga will finish the regular season with another highly anticipated WCC matchup two nights later against rival Saint Mary’s in Moraga, California.

Gonzaga has had success against USF regardless of venue, winning the past 27 games in the series, including each of the last 11 played at the Dons’ Memorial Gym, a 3,000-seat facility located on the Hilltop that was built in 1958.

GU is less than two years removed from its only trip to the Chase Center, where the top-seeded Bulldogs lost 74-68 to fourth-seeded Arkansas in the NCAA Tournament Sweet 16.

The Bulldogs played two NCAA Tournament games at the Denver Nuggets’ Ball Arena last season and faced Texas Tech at the Phoenix Suns’ Footprint Center for a nonconference game the year prior. Gonzaga’s played various NCAA Tournament games at Staples Center, home of the NBA’s Lakers and Clippers, along with Vivint Smart Home Arena, home of the Utah Jazz.

Although maybe not as potent as the team that earned an at-large NCAA Tournament bid two seasons ago, the Dons could still be a preseason top-three team in the WCC under second-year coach Chris Gerlufsen. USF lost starting guards Khalil Shabazz and Tyrell Roberts, along with forward Zane Meeks, who transferred to Arizona State, but the Dons return three players who started in a WCC Tournament semifinal loss to the Zags last season: junior forwards Isaiah Hawthorne and Ndewedo Newbury, and senior forward Josh Kunen.

Gerlufsen also has a strong transfer class, featuring Dayton’s Mike Sharavjamts, SMU’s Stefan Todorovic and USC’s Malik Thomas.