Late buckets by Kispert help No. 2 Zags edge San Francisco 83-79
SAN FRANCISCO — A 35-game winning streak in the West Coast Conference was tested every minute in a sold out War Memorial Gym as the No. 2 Gonzaga Bulldogs matched up with the USF Dons.
The Bulldogs were working with their shortest bench of the season. Only six players got the majority of the minutes, as senior forward Killian Tillie watched from the bench after spraining his ankle on Thursday at Santa Clara. Martynas Arlauskas was the seventh player to get in, but played under four minutes.
Filip Petrusev scored 23 to keep Gonzaga afloat in the first half, as USF went up by as much as 11 points. The Zags cut the halftime lead to eight points. The hero of the final few minutes was Corey Kispert.
The two went back and forth with the lead for almost the entire second half. The Dons were on a 6-0 run with just under two minutes to go and a 76-75 lead before Corey Kispert drove to the bucket and finished an and-one play to help the Bulldogs go up 78-76 with 1:33 left.
A few possessions and tipped passes out of bounds later, the ball was in the senior’s hands again out of an out-of-bounds play, and hit another clutch jumper to extend the Zag’s lead to four with :30 on the clock. Kispert was held to 11 points on the night.
Khalil Shabazz hit a three-pointer for USF to draw within one, 80-79, but Drew Timme was fouled and made one free throw to put Gonzaga up 81-79.
Both teams were dealing with foul trouble, four of six players for Gonzaga played with four fouls in the final five minutes of the game. USF was in the bonus with 11 minutes to go, and the Zags were in the same position with about nine minutes left in the first half.
Dons’ center Jimbo Lull was a concern for Gonzaga’s head coach Mark Few heading into the game with an injured frontcourt, but they held him to just six points as he fouled out with 7:30 to go.
Timme had his career high in points for the Bulldogs, finishing with 19. Joel Ayayi hit two key three-pointers to keep Gonzaga in the game in the second half, and finished with 12 points, Admon Gilder Jr. finished with 11.
Gonzaga was able to hold on to the two-point lead for their ninth WCC win, they’re 9-0 in conference and earn their 36th straight conference win. They are now 23-1 on the season.
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