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Gonzaga survives San Francisco in WCC Tournament semifinals, 84-73

Grudge match against Saint Mary’s incoming.

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

Anton Watson scored 20 points and Drew Timme finished five points shy of the all-time Gonzaga scoring record as the Zags pushed past a feisty San Francisco squad, 84-73, to advance to the WCC Championship against Saint Mary’s.

Early on in the first half, it looked like the Zags were going to run away with the game due to a game plan gone wrong by the Dons. San Francisco was sagging off the Gonzaga bigs, daring them to shoot. Early on, they did, and hit them. Gonzaga went 7-for-14 from three point in the first half, with Ben Gregg hitting three and Anton Watson adding two.

Watson, in particular, was on fire to open the game. He scored 13 of Gonzaga’s first 25 points, was confident in his shot, and aggressive on drives to the hoop. Unfortunately, two fouls kept him on the bench for half of the first half.

Then, the Dons’ game plan started to work. The threes stopped falling for Gonzaga and Khalil Shabazz started cooking. The Dons were largely effective at denying clear opportunities for Drew Timme, who made the difference at the line, but wasn’t able to get into a groove like he normally does. The free throw disparity was one of the anchors for Gonzaga early on. The Zags went 8-for-10 from the free throw line in the first half. San Francisco was 0-for-1.

San Francisco would make things very interesting in the second half. The Dons kept slowly chipping away, bringing themselves within two points. Just as Gonzaga has done quite a few times throughout this WCC contest, however, the Zags stretched together enough of a stretch of a defense for the offense to get some buckets and provide a bit of breathing room.

Shabazz is an all-time WCC baller, however, and for the most part, the Dons’ outside shot was falling for most of the game. For a team that prioritizes the three so much, that is how they stay in it. Shabazz led all scorers with 26 points, and for a major chunk of the second half, the Dons would just not go away.

The Zags finally started to put enough of a gap between the two squads, spurred on by Gregg’s fourth three pointer of the game. The Zags followed with a couple of floaters, and used an 9-2 run to take a 12 point lead with roughly four minutes left in the game.

That would be enough to survive and advance to the WCC Tournament Championship for the 24th-straight season.