No. 13 Gonzaga rallies past Santa Clara 71-64
SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP)—All it took was taking a step back, clearing the mind and keeping it simple. It helps when you have a returning first-team all-conference player there to lead the way.
Matt Bouldin and Steven Gray each scored 19 points, and No. 13 Gonzaga rallied from a 14-point deficit in the second half to beat Santa Clara 71-64 on Thursday night for its ninth straight victory.
“We just kept trying to close the gap and keep making stops,” Bouldin said. “We were just trying to win.”
Elias Harris had 16 points and 14 rebounds for the Bulldogs (17-3, 6-0 West Coast Conference), who closed with a 12-0 run over the final 5:55 and beat the Broncos for the eighth straight time.
“We just slowed down and made simple plays,” Gonzaga coach Mark Few said. “We were playing a little frantic, just like the way we were practicing yesterday. Sometimes you don’t need to try to make a play that has a 30 percent chance of working. You make the simple plays.”
Bouldin was at his best over the final 15 minutes, scoring seven points, recording two of his four steals and three of his six assists as the Zags eventually got back into the game.
“In my mind they have an All-American guard in Bouldin who is not going to get rattled,” Santa Clara coach Kerry Keating said. “He has been through the wars since day one.”
Niyi Harrison scored 14 points to lead the Broncos (9-14, 1-5), who have lost seven of their past eight home games. Robert Smith added 13 points and Marc Trasolini had 12.
“They made a couple of pushes when we were turning the ball over,” Trasolini said. “They were getting easy looks, getting to the foul line and converting our mistakes. They just kept pushing and pushing.”
Harris hit a pair of free throws with 6:17 left to bring Gonzaga within two. Michael Santos converted a three-point play to extend the lead to 64-59, but Santa Clara didn’t score again.
Robert Sacre hit one of two free throws before Bouldin made a steal and fed Gray for a 3-pointer that pulled the Bulldogs to 64-63 with 5:09 remaining.
Mangisto Arop gave Gonzaga its first lead since early in the game on a putback with 4:02 to go. The Zags controlled the offensive boards, 11-6.
Sacre hit a short jump hook to make it 67-64, then the Broncos missed two attempts at a tying 3-pointer. With 1 second left on the shot clock, Gray hit a layup to put the Zags up by five with 19 seconds to go. After a turnover, Bouldin sealed it with a layup with 7 seconds left.
“We settled down on both ends of the court and we got into the right spots,” Few said. “Santa Clara was physical, aggressive and we were soft. They took it to us for 30 minutes of that thing.”
Harris is averaging 20 points and 11 rebounds during the Zags’ winning streak.
Gonzaga has not lost at Santa Clara since 2001.
Trasolini hit consecutive 3-pointers to give the Broncos a 13-point edge with 15:31 remaining. After the Bulldogs scored a basket, Troy Payne’s three-point play made it a 14-point cushion with 15 minutes to go.
Gonzaga gradually chipped away, then used an 8-1 spurt to cut it to 61-59 with 6:17 left.
Santa Clara’s quick start in the second half prompted Few to call a timeout, which the officials did not hear at first because of the crowd noise.
The Broncos got their fans involved early, grabbing the lead from the start. Gonzaga made a run and Santa Clara answered, building a double-digit advantage by capitalizing on 12 Bulldogs turnovers in the first half.
Raymond Cowels hit a 3-pointer from the corner to give Santa Clara a 31-21 lead with just more than four minutes left in the opening half. The Bulldogs closed the gap to 38-33 by halftime.