The question leading up to tonight's game against San Francisco was how the Zags would respond to their most recent loss to BYU. The early results were less than stellar as San Francisco came out in the quarterfinals as the more aggressive team and led for a good chunk of the first half. It was more of the same for Gonzaga as they struggled with consistency offensively and were sloppy on the defensive glass which led to USF second chance points. The Dons ran out to as big as a 7-point first half lead before closing the half with a 2-point advantage.
Gonzaga's dynamic duo of Kevin Pangos and Kyle Witljer were particularly off int he first half as they combined to go 3-12 from the floor. In the second half, it was Witljer that answered the call but it was his front court mate Przemek Karnowski that was the consistent force for the Bulldogs. The much maligned big man from Poland was simply outstanding for Mark Few's squad as he scored a career high 24 points. Wiltjer's transformation in the 2nd half was the driving force for the Zags victory. He scored 7 consecutive points in the 2nd half and played with great fire to spark the Bulldogs. Kyle Dranginis quickly followed suit and was the lone bench guard to really step up - he finished the game with 10 points.
Wiltjer's night was abruptly ended when he went down with an apparent leg injury. He returned to the bench eventually and with Sunday being an off day (thanks, BYU!), the hope is that he will be available for the semifinals against Pepperdine.
The great news is that the Zags played with fire in the 2nd half and showed how good they can be when they are motivated but such performances can't wait until the 2nd half...