San Francisco advances to take on Gonzaga in WCC semifinals

LAS VEGAS, NV - MARCH 05: (L-R) Marko Petrovic #10, Perris Blackwell #22, Rashad Green #13 and Moustapha Diarra #21 of the San Francisco Dons and other players on the bench celebrate their 76-59 victory over the Pepperdine Waves during a quarterfinal game of the Zappos.com West Coast Conference Basketball tournament at the Orleans Arena March 5, 2011 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

After a dreadful start to the 2010-11 season, San Francisco has rallied to become one of the top teams in the West Coast Conference.  The Dons ended the regular season with a 10-4 mark in conference play and were able to carry that over to last night's game against Pepperdine as they eased past the Waves with a 76-59 win.  In last night's quarterfinals win, San Francisco played one of their more efficient games of the season, shooting 56% from the field and 43% from beyond the arc. 

Pepperdine, on the other hand, did not have enough to slow down Rashad Green from USF.  Green, who has blossomed into one of the top guards in the WCC, scored 23 points on 8-13 from the floor and came down with 10 rebounds as well.  The Waves had three players in double figures in the game but were never able to get anything consistent going on offense.  They shot a woeful 32% from the floor and were only able to keep the game somewhat interesting due to their eight made three point attempts, which accounted for nearly half their points.

With the win, San Francisco will take on Gonzaga this evening at 7:30 pacific on ESPN2.  The Zags and Dons split the regular season series with the Bulldogs winning the most recent contest in Spokane.  In that game, Gonzaga played a great defensive game but sputtered offensively early before Marquise Carter absolutely went off in the second half.  Carter had 11 points in the first four minutes of the second half and the Zags never looked back, cruising to a 17 point win.  More on that game and tonight's game after the jump...

If you remember, Gonzaga's overtime loss to San Francisco early in conference play was largely a product of horrid defensive play and the Zags' amazing inability to close the game.  Gonzaga was beaten off the dribble consistently in that game which led to a number of kick-out threes and they were also able to draw a ton of Gonzaga fouls due to lazy defense by the Zags.  The Bulldogs committed 27 personals in that game and the Dons cashed in from the free throw stripe, shooting 84% from the line on 32 attempts.  Gonzaga simply couldn't figure it out from the stripe.  The Bulldogs shot their second worst free throw % of the season at 55.6%.  Five of those misses were from the hand of Mangisto Arop who, since that game, has registered four DNPs.

A month later, Gonzaga played one of their best halves of basketball in the 2010-11 season.  Marquise Carter was sensational, Sam Dower had an impact, and the Zags guards did an amazing job at shutting down the Dons' backcourt.  Rashad Green, Cody Doolin, and Michael Williams combined to shoot 7-21 from the floor and their supporting cast didn't do much better as the team shot 38% from the floor. 

Tonight sets up to be one heck of a game.  Gonzaga's riding a seven game winning streak and San Francisco looked like a team poised for a run in last night's win over Pepperdine.  The key, in my opinion, will once again rest on how well Gonzaga is able to defend.  The Dons have one of the more underrated backcourts on the west coast and last night, Michael Williams and Rashad Green combined for 37 points, 15 rebounds, 8 assists, and only 2 turnovers.    Demetri Goodson, Marquise Carter, David Stockton, and co. will have to stop the dribble drive that the Dons seem to do so well and not allow the three point shot to decide this game. 

On the other side of the bracket

Eighth-seeded Loyola Marymount got a huge performance from Drew Viney on Friday night in their upset of fifth-seed Portland.  Viney was 9-15 from the floor (4-5 from three) in the Lions win.  They looked to continue their run Saturday night against Santa Clara but fell just short by a score of 76-68.  Marc Trasolini and Kevin Foster combined for 40 points in the Broncos win and they advance to take on Saint Mary's in the early game this evening which tips at 5 PM pacific.

 

 

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