San Francisco isn't very good at winning in Spokane. In fact, most Gonzaga students weren't even alive last time that happened. Tonight, especially early, the Dons' looked capable of ending a losing streak spanning four presidencies. Then, as it has in 15 games this season, Gonzaga's offense became otherworldy and ran the Dons out of the gym.
Two Kruize Pinkins three pointers and an 8-2 run helped the Dons pull out to an 11-7 lead early.
Also helping the Dons' cause was Gonzaga's cold shooting to open the game. Of the Zags' first 15 field goal attempts only four fell thru the basket. When, according Ken Pomeroy's statistics, the fourth most efficient offense in the country plays the 188th most efficient defense, you can't expect poor shooting to persist forever.
Immediately following falling behind 11-7, the Zags saw four consecutive productive possessions.
Kyle Wiltjer for three, Kevin Pangos for three, Kyle Wiltjer for three and then again, Kyle Wiltjer for three.
I can't imagine that this was what was actually happening, but it sure seemed like the Dons enjoyed watching the Zags knock down threes because they kept giving the ball back to Gonzaga. The Zags' four consecutive threes came in the middle of a seven possession stretch in which San Francisco scored one point and turned the ball over five times — including a run of four possessions in a row.
Gonzaga took a three possession lead after that stretch, but struggled to push into double figures. San Francisco, no doubt a result of the style in which Rex Walters coaches the team, hung around tough.
The Dons continued to hang around into the second half much like how they did in the first half, because of their go-to senior Kruize Pinkins. He would finish as the game's leading scorer with 20 points on 7-11 shooting from the field.
While hard to come by in the first half, the sound of whistles were abundant in the second.
The Dons took nearly 18 minutes in the first to commit seven fouls. They needed half that much time in the second half.
Gonzaga only managed to connect on 12-18 free throws in the game, but the momentum shift benefited them nonetheless. A string of fouls committed by the Dons between the 13 and 11 minute marks helped the Zags blow the game open. A 51-41 game quickly became a 21 point affair.
The Zags' offense would fire on all cylinders for the final dozen or so minutes. After their 10 point, 51-41 lead, the Zags outscored the Dons 37-16 and led by as many as 33 points.
Gonzaga's reserves played well late and helped expand the lead. Freshman point guard Silas Melson scored all 10 of his points, including three threes, in 11 second half minutes.
Three Zags joined Melson with double figures in the scoring column. Kevin Pangos had the team high, 17 points on 6-11 shooting (5-8 from three). Przemek Karnowski, playing in front of his parents, added 16 and Kyle Wiltjer chipped in 15.
Freshman point guard Devin Watson was the only Don aside from Kruize Pinkins to hit double figures. He finished with 11 points.
San Francisco falls to 7-10 (1-4) with the loss while Gonzaga moves on to 15-1 (4-0). The Zags have not lost at home to the Dons since 1989.