Gonzaga wins in San Francisco for first time since 2009By The Sports Xchange | The SportsXchange – Sat, Feb 16, 2013 8:00 PM EST
SAN FRANCISCO -- Logic says Gonzaga should have breezed by San Francisco, which was just 4-8 in conference games and had lost at home to lowly Portland on Thursday. Recent history suggests something very different, though, which is why the No. 5 Bulldogs were pleased to escape with a 71-61 victory over San Francisco on Saturday afternoon at War Memorial Gymnasium. Gonzaga (25-2, 12-0 in the West Coast Conference) had lost the last three times it had played on the Dons' home court, and none of the current Gonzaga players was on the Bulldogs' bench the last time they won in San Francisco, in 2009. Gonzaga senior Elias Harris, who had 17 points and 13 rebounds to help the Bulldogs dominated the paint, left no doubt that his first win at San Francisco was significant. "Absolutely," he said. "I waited three years." But neither he nor teammate Kelly Olynyk, who poured in 26 points on 13-for-17 shooting and added nine rebounds, could identify why the Bulldogs have struggled on the Dons' home court in the recent past. "I don't know," Olynyk said. "There might be a little magic in this building. It's not an easy place to win -- especially for us." Gonzaga was tested again Saturday by the Dons, who overcame an early 15-point deficit to tie the game midway through the second half. However, Gonzaga dominated the final seven minutes to subdue the Dons (11-15, 4-9) despite 15 points from San Francisco's Cole Dickerson and 14 from Cody Doolin. "We've had some crazy things happen here," Gonzaga coach Mark Few said, "but it all comes down to playing with outstanding effort. (San Francisco) played extremely hard. "Our team has been in some poise-type games. Butler, except for that last play, San Diego State, St. Mary's -- these guys have been nails down the stretch of games." Gonzaga led by just a point with seven minutes left when it scored 10 straight points, including six by Olynyk, to regain control of the game. Gonzaga was just 3-for-16 on three-point shots and did not shoot a free throw in the first half. But it was 14-for-18 from the line in the second half and used the inside power of the 6-foot-8 Harris and 7-foot Olynyk to wear down the Dons. "We got our butts kicked," San Francisco coach Rex Walters said. "They are physically stronger than us. We played extremely hard, but physically ... Size does matter. "I still think St. Mary's is tougher, but physically (the Bulldogs) are a Final Four-caliber team." San Francisco was fortunate to trail just 34-27 at halftime after Gonzaga's fast start. After Dickerson scored on the game's first possession, the Dons missed 12 of their next 13 shots. Meanwhile, Gonzaga started 9-for-11 from the field and, when Olynyk scored on a layup with 12:20 remaining in the first half, the Bulldogs held a commanding 19-4 lead. San Francisco reduced the deficit to 30-25 when De'End Parker converted a three-point play at 4:24 mark of the half, but the Dons got no closer until after intermission. San Francisco pulled to within two points when Dickerson nailed a three-pointer at the 14:10 mark of the second half, and he tied the game at 45-45 with a three-pointer with 10:32 left. The game was tied again at 47-47, but the Dons never took the lead. The Bulldogs led 53-52 with 7:10 to go, when it went on its 10-0 run. During that spurt, Harris scored on a dunk and Olynyk hit three field goals from close range, the last one giving the Bulldogs a 63-52 lead with 3:37 remaining. "He's a very skilled, cerebral basketball player," Few said of Olynyk. NOTES: Gonzaga holds a two-game lead in the loss column in the WCC standings, with just four games left. ... Olynyk has scored 13 points or more in 15 straight games. ... Gonzaga's 25-2 record is its best 27-game record since 2004, when it also started 25-2. ... San Francisco freshman Avry Holmes had made 51.4 percent of his three-pointers heading into Saturday's game. That ranked second in the country for players who have made at least 1.5 three-pointers per game. He made 1 of 2 Saturday. ... Dickerson ranked first in the WCC and 18th in the country in rebounding entering Saturday's game, averaging 9.8 a game. He had just five boards on Saturday.
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