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Gonzaga Basketball

Difference makers: Unstoppable Graham Ike pours in 26 points for Gonzaga against San Francisco

Graham Ike

Ike carried Gonzaga’s offense through a sluggish first half, scoring 16 points before any other Bulldog player reached double figures. The junior forward had 14 of GU’s first 22 points and finished the first half 5 of 7 from the field while the team’s other four starters combined to go just 5 of 14. USF didn’t discover an answer for Ike during the halftime break and the Wyoming transfer added 12 more points to his total to finish with a game-high 26 before fouling out with 3 minutes, 41 seconds to go. Ike, who played 28 minutes, had another efficient night, making 9 of 12 shots from the field while going 8 of 8 from the free throw line. The forward has now scored at least 20 points in GU’s last six games and has 48 in two regular-season games against USF.

Nolan Hickman

Nobody was more critical to Gonzaga’s second-half surge than Hickman, who overcame a slow offensive start to finish the game as the Bulldogs’ second-leading scorer. Hickman, who’d made 15 3-pointers in GU’s prior four games, missed on his first two looks from behind the arc and closed the first half with three points on 1 of 5 from the field. The dry spell didn’t last long and Hickman scored 11 points inside the first nine minutes of the second half, connecting on Gonzaga’s first 3-pointer at the 18-minute, 19-second mark to extend the Bulldogs’ lead to 42-34. Hickman scored 22 points, finishing 7 of 13 from the field, 2 of 6 from the 3-point line and 6 of 6 from the free throw line. It was Hickman’s fourth 20-point game this season and fourth since Jan. 30.

Turning point

Gonzaga’s effort in the first half didn’t sit well and the team that emerged from the locker room after halftime looked much different from the one that opened the game. After Anton Watson gave the Bulldogs their first lead on a turnaround jumper with five seconds left in the opening frame, GU buried USF with a 26-4 run to start the second half. During that stretch, the Bulldogs scored 13 straight points and held the Dons scoreless for more than four minutes until Ryan Beasley’s 3-pointer. Gonzaga, which trailed by five points with 3 minutes, 42 seconds remaining in the first half, built its lead to a game-high 29 points with 1 minute, 38 seconds to play.