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Gonzaga Wins in San Francisco, 75-67

In 2010, 2011 and 2012, the Dons got the best of Gonzaga at War Memorial. This season, there was a lot more on the line than usual. Entering the game, Gonzaga sat atop the WCC standings, followed by San Francisco.

Kyle Dranginis was a monster on the glass tonight.
Kyle Dranginis was a monster on the glass tonight.
William Mancebo

Avry Holmes hit a three to give the Dons the first lead of the game. Then Cole Dickerson made it a five point game with a jumper. That second basket came at the 18:08 mark.

For the first two minutes, Gonzaga's defense was asleep. It came to life after Dickerson's jumper. Gonzaga held San Francisco at five points for over five minutes. For over six minutes the Zags held the Dons' without a field goal. During that span the Zags went on a 13-0 run.

Przemek Karnowski scored six points during the run. His great first half was interrupted when he and teammate Kyle Dranginis collided mid-air. Karnowski suffered a cut below his eye that sent him to the locker room for a few minutes of game time. He would return, bandaged, late in the half.

Without Karnowski's size down low, the Dons were able to close the gap. San Francisco repeatedly cut the Gonzaga lead to four, but never managed to pull any closer in the first.

That is because the Zags' defense was on point. Turnovers occurred on one quarter of the Dons' first half possessions. David Stockton was the main factor behind that high turnover rate, he stole the ball five times in the half. As a result, the Dons scored far less frequently than their season average (1.09 points per possession), recording just 0.858 points/poss. in the first.

Avry Holmes hit a three in the final seconds to, once again, cut the Zags' lead to four.

Rex Walters has his players run a five-on-five scrimmage at the end of halftime, rather than the traditional lay-up line. That extra practice at halftime has helped the Dons come out firing in the second half this season. Tonight was no different. In the first minutes they cut the lead to one, 31-32 and 33-34, on two occasions.

After that, they fell flat. The Dons scored just five points over six minutes, during which Gonzaga scored 15. It was Gonzaga 49, San Francisco 38 with 11:20 remaining.

Rex Walters ran onto the court following Kyle Dranginis' steal of a Tim Derksen pass. The frustrated coach was yelling at an official. The official didn't like it, so he assessed Walters with a technical foul. Sam Dower hit both free throws for Gonzaga.

It was an incredibly untimely move by the Dons' head coach. Gonzaga had all the momentum at that point, but somehow gained even more in its wake. The Zags took an 11 point lead and pushed it out to 14 points.

The Dons would cut the lead back to ten, and then down to seven. But, they couldn't get out of their own way. Not only was Gonzaga able to answer whenever the Dons made a big basket, but they were getting sent to the line left and right.

By the end of the game two Dons had fouled out, Kruize Pinkins and Cole Dickerson (their entire starting frontcourt) while Matt Glover and Avry Holmes had four each. The other starter, Mark Tollefsen, had three.

All those fouls, and an exceptional shooting night from Gonzaga, resulted in 34 made free throws. That is a new season high among WCC teams.

The Dons would cut the lead to two possessions just once down the stretch. With 2:13 remaining, Avry Holmes converted a pair of free throws to make it 63-57. From there, the Zags cushion would bounce between seven and nine, until the very end.

Sam Dower had a monster game with 24 points on 6-10 shooting from the field and 12-13 from the line. Kyle Dranginis came off the bench and pulled down a career high 12 rebounds.