San Francisco, CA – The No. 9 ranked Gonzaga Bulldogs traveled to Northern California to play the Dons of San Francisco at the War Memorial at Sobrato Center. The heavily favored Bulldogs started off slow, led the game for only 20 seconds, but beat San Francisco 77-75. Rasir Bolton got hot late and led Gonzaga with 21 points, connecting on 5-of-7 from deep.
The Bulldogs shot poorly from 3 in the first half, just 33 percent on 4-of-12 while San Francisco was hot from deep, shooting 57 percent on 8-of-14. San Francisco’s hot shooting was led by Khalil Shabazz who had two first half threes. The Dons also dominated the Bulldogs on the glass, out-rebounding them in the game by a 45-26 margin. That, combined with their strong shooting, gave San Francisco their largest lead at 12 points with 5:45 remaining in the first half. Gonzaga’s leading scorer Drew Timme struggled in the first half (3-for-9 from the field) but still found a way to score 10 first half points. At the end of the half San Francisco held a 46-36 lead.
The Bulldogs found their stride with an 11-3 run at the start of the second half which cut the lead to 51-49. Julian Strawther hit a three and Anton Watson hit from mid- range, followed by a shot from deep which got the Bulldogs back on track. Gonzaga continued to get punished on the boards. In addition, San Francisco’s 7’2” center Volodymyr Markovetskyy gave Timme trouble, altering his shots and limiting his production. Timme finished with only 11 points on 3-of-16 from the field, significantly less than the 35 points he scored on Pepperdine a week ago.
But the hallmark of a good team is the ability to win when not playing well. Gonzaga kept up the pressure by making shots. San Francisco showed amazing toughness by responding with great shooting of their own. In response to Gonzaga’s Nolan Hickman making a jumper to bring the Gonzaga within 59-57 with 7:23 remaining the Dons Tyrell Roberts responded with a three=pointer after a time out. Gonzaga and the Dons seemed to trade buckets with the Zags’ Rasir Bolton making a three and then the Dons’ Josh Kunen making his own three in response to give San Francisco a 71-65 lead with 4:23 remaining in the game.
The crowd at the War Memorial could feel the momentum swinging to the Bulldogs after another Bolton’s three to cut USF’s lead to three points. Tyrell Roberts made two free throws but Bolton responded with yet another three-pointer to cut the USF lead to two points with 2:42 remaining in the game. The Dons still had a chance to upset the #9 Bulldogs. Down the stretch, a Bolton steal led to a Hickman layup to tie the game at 73. The Dons’ Roberts made a beautiful jumper to put the Dons back up by two at 2:02. Isaiah Hawthorne missed a three for San Francisco then Watson tied the game for the Bulldogs when he was fouled on a dunk, but he missed the free throw. Shabazz then missed another three-pointer. With the ball in their best player’s hands with nine seconds left, Timme missed a layup but the sharpshooter Bolton came all the way from the other side of the paint and found some space to get the rebound and the put back to give Gonzaga a thrilling 77-75 road win.