Difference makers: Adma-Alpha Bal's late basket lifts Santa Clara past Gonzaga despite Anton Watson's career night

Jan. 11—Anton Watson

Anton Watson was Gonzaga's offense for a big chunk of the game. He scored half of the Zags' 34 first-half points and 23 of their first 42 points. The 6-foot-8 grad student put on a performance reminiscent of the UCLA game when he carried the Zags to victory with 32 points on 14-of-15 shooting from the field. Watson made 10 of his first 11 shots. He hit a go-ahead putback with 2:30 remaining to give GU a 74-72 lead. He finished with 32 points, nine rebounds and six steals.

Adama-Alpha Bal

The Arizona transfer didn't have his best night — far from it — but the 6-7 wing hit the deciding shot with a 10-foot banker while being fouled with 4.6 seconds left. He missed the free throw, but his basket gave SCU a 77-76 lead. Bal scored Santa Clara's last three points. He finished with 17 points on 7-of-16 shooting from the field and six assists.

Turning point

Santa Clara closed the game by scoring the last five points in the final minute to erase Gonzaga's 76-72 lead. Johnny O'Neil had a dunk with 50.8 seconds left to cut the deficit to two. Bal made 1 of 2 free throws. GU's Ryan Nembhard missed the front end of a 1-and-1 and Bal drove the left side of the lane to connect on bank shot while being fouled by Nolan Hickman. Bal missed the free throw, but his basket gave the Broncos a 77-76 lead.