War Memorial Gymnasium once again proved to be one of the toughest places in the WCC for the Zags to play as GU outlasted a resilient USF Dons squad 75-65. Gonzaga kept a comfortable 8-14-point lead throughout the game, but somehow USF cut it to six thanks to some late three- point heroics by USF and questionable whistles. I guess all the ghosts at War Memorial haven’t been exorcised.
USF was led by freshman phenom Souley Boum who scored 22 points. Speaking of paranormal activity, Frankie Ferrari dropped 18 and Jordan Ratinho had 16 as USF shot 43% from three. Gonzaga was led by Johnathan Williams III with 17 points and 9 rebounds, Josh Perkins with 16 points, Melson with 14 and Rui with 10. After four games of efficient ball distribution and low turnovers, tonight’s numbers were reversed with the Zags only producing 7 assists against 13 turnovers.
Gonzaga had a comfortable 41-30 lead at halftime, but it shouldn’t have been that close. Frankie Ferrari scored 13 1st half points and the Zags gave up too many easy baskets by not hustling back on defense after makes. USF contributed to their own halftime deficit by shooting an atrocious 4 for 12 from the line. Gonzaga played well, but they weren’t the well-oiled machine we saw over the first five WCC contests.
The 2nd half started as a whistle-fest with the Zags drawing four fouls in the first four minutes, some so questionable the broadcast team had trouble containing their disbelief. USF took advantage of the additional possessions to cut the lead to 46-40, but thanks to timely baskets by Perkins and Rui coupled with Few switching to a zone defense, GU reestablished their double- digit lead and held it until the last few minutes.
As mentioned above, things got pretty exciting during the last three minutes and the pucker factor started to rise, but thanks to two excellent blocks by Rui on Boum and Ferrari six was as close as USF would get.
Maybe a tough, competitive game is just what the Zags needed before the Thursday’s big contest. Blowing out WCC cellar dwellers has been fun but a jolt to the system to bring them back to a competitive level couldn’t have happened at a more opportune time.