Gonzaga forces San Francisco to accept 81-71 defeat in West Coast semi-finals

March 8, 2022

On Monday night, the Gonzaga men's basketball team secured its place in the West Coast Conference tournament championship after defeating the San Francisco Dons. The match was decided by a final score of 81-71.

Drew Timme led the way for the Zags with a game-high 27 points. In addition, he was able to make all of his shots during the first four minutes of the match. Other than Timme, Andrew Nembhard added 17 points and nine assists for the team.

It's just what we do - that's Zag basketball," Timme said on his team's stellar performance. "We just kind of got away from it and got back to doing what we do best."

The Zags dominated the paint and pushed around the smaller Dons while building a 24-point lead in the second half.

This would be Gonzaga's fifth time in their history up against St. Mary for the last seven seasons.

San Francisco's shortcoming

The Dons looked sluggish after their impressive performance against BYU on Saturday. They missed their first four shots, and their leading scorer Jamaree Bouyea went 1-for-11 from the field.

Bouyea was named as the first team All-WCC after averaging a high of 17.1 points and 5.1 rebounds. But he could not find a room to make a play against the Zags.

"With him coming off so many ball screens and us switching up coverages, I think it kind of threw him off," Nembhard, who was responsible for guarding Bouyea, said.

Aside from Bouyea, the Dons were also without their first team All-WCC forward, Yauhen Massalski. His absence affected their defense since he's averaging 9.6 rebounds and has over 70 blocks this season.

Guard Khalil Shabazz stepped up and led the Dons' offense by scoring 27 points. He scored nine of those during San Francisco's 13-2 run. Additionally, fellow guard Julian Rishwain chipped in 20 points for San Francisco.

Despite the loss, Todd Golden, the head coach of the Dons, was proud of his team's effort. "I was really proud of the way the guys battled and didn't cash in," he said. "There's no moral victories, but a 10-point loss to these guys isn't the end of the world."

Golden has led the Dons to a remarkable season, having them in the NCAA's Elite Eight for the first time in two decades. San Francisco is also one of the best 3-point shooting teams in the country.

Even though San Francisco has to accept the loss, the Dons were still excited about their game against the top-ranked team in the country. They knew that they would have to play well to beat the Zags.

During the second half, the Dons started to play better, but they were still unable to stop the fast-paced game played by the Zags.

After trailing by 24 points, the Dons could pull within 79-71 with 1:32 remaining. However, as the Zags controlled the game, San Francisco had difficulty pulling ahead.

Despite the deficit, Shabazz and his teammates refused to give up. They remained focused and committed to playing until the final buzzer sounded.

"We're never going to quit, regardless of whether we're down by 30 or not," the redshirt senior said. "We're going to play until the clock hits 0.0 and that's what we did today."

Martin
Martin Evergreen
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