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Zags Survive USF, Advance to WCC Championship

The Dons made it close, but GU is going back to the title game.

NCAA Basketball: West Coast Conference Tournament-Gonzaga vs San Francisco Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

The Gonzaga Bulldogs advanced to the WCC Championship for the 25th straight season after knocking off fourth seed San Francisco. It didn’t come easy, though, as the Dons made a furious comeback in the second half, cutting a 21-point deficit to single digits in the final minutes.

Despite the sloppy and lackadaisical play from the Zags in the second half, much went right for the team in the first three quarters of the game. Drew Timme scored the first seven points of the game (en route to a team high 22) as GU went on a 9-0 run to start. He and Chet Holmgren dominated the early stages, scoring the Zags’ first 16 points between them. Chet did Chet things in the first, going into the break with 11 points, six rebounds, four blocks, and three steals.

Gonzaga was up twenty to start the second half, but didn’t extend the lead much from there. Some sloppy passes began to creep in on the offensive end, but they were able to keep USF at bay until the final ten minutes. Both Timme and Holmgren were saddled with foul trouble, each picking up their fourth in the final ten minutes. Ultimately, the cushion the Zags built up in the first half was enough to keep San Francisco from coming all the way back.

Andrew Nembhard was a consistent and steadying presence for Gonzaga, finishing with 17 points, nine assists, and just one turnover. Khalil Shabazz was the spark plug for the Dons in the second half, scoring all but four of his game high 27 after halftime. Julian Rishwain was also a pain, scoring 20.

Gonzaga will await the winner of Saint Mary’s and Santa Clara for tomorrow’s title game, which will be aired on ESPN at 6:00. Hopefully there’s 40 minutes of urgency that time around.