Williams and Tillie both score 16 points in win
SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) Gonzaga coach Mark Few liked the way his No. 15 Bulldogs played at the beginning and end of the game against San Francisco.
The middle of the game was another matter.
Killian Tillie and Johnathan Williams each scored 16 points as Gonzaga held off San Francisco 82-73 on Saturday by making all 14 of its free throws down the stretch.
”It was a battle,” Few said. ”We had an awful dry spell in the first half. We got back on our heels.”
Rui Hachimura added 14 points for Gonzaga (19-4, 9-1 West Coast Conference), which has won three in a row following a rare conference home loss to No. 16 Saint Mary’s.
Frankie Ferrari and Jordan Ratinho had 15 points apiece for San Francisco (12-11, 4-6).
Tillie scored eight points and Silas Melson seven as Gonzaga jumped out to a 29-11 lead.
Then the wheels fell off the Zags, and the Dons responded with an 18-3 run to trail just 32-29 at halftime. Gonzaga went 1 of 12 from the field in the final nine minutes of the first.
”They’re solid,” Gonzaga guard Zach Norvell Jr. said. ”That was a big part of it.”
The teams traded baskets early in the second half, until Ratinho’s 3-pointer tied the score for San Francisco at 45. The Dons never could take the lead, though.
Gonzaga pulled away a bit and maintained a 64-55 lead with 7:30 left, shooting 70 percent in the second half to that point.
Ratinho’s 3-pointer brought San Francisco to 72-68 with 4:16 remaining. He hit a pair of free throws to cut Gonzaga’s lead to 76-73.
Williams responded with two free throws for Gonzaga and blocked the Dons’ next shot. San Francisco missed twice more from the floor and Gonzaga sealed it at the line.
Williams made all four of his free throws in the late going and added a couple of blocks. For the game, he shot 5 of 7 from the field and 5 for 6 at the line.
”It was a good team effort toward the end,” said Josh Perkins, whose 11 points included Gonzaga’s final four free throws.
Few was pleased that Williams stepped up at the end, but said the entire team needed to play more consistently.
”We’re getting great play here, then foolish play,” Few said. ”We need to tighten things up.”
The teams were nearly identical in shooting percentage, rebounds, assists and other statistics.
”We were making shots,” said San Francisco coach Kyle Smith, whose team was 9 of 18 from 3-point range. ”They’re usually really hard to score on and we were hitting our 3s.
”It was down to a one-possession game late and we needed a stop, but it just didn’t happen,” he added.
Gonzaga made 19 of 23 free throws in the game, while San Francisco was 8 of 11.
The Zags might move up as several teams above them lost this week.
RETURN OF FOSTER
Chase Foster scored 13 points for San Francisco after missing the previous three games with an ankle injury.
San Francisco: The Dons lost to Gonzaga by 10 points at home in mid-January. They average 69 points per game and shoot just 41 percent from the field. But they shot 51 percent against the Zags.
Gonzaga: The Bulldogs have won 13 straight against the Dons, dating to 2012. San Francisco has lost 29 in a row at Gonzaga, dating to 1989. … Six Bulldogs average in double figures and the Zags average 88.5 points per game. They shoot 51 percent from the field, good for fourth in the nation.
San Francisco plays at No. 16 Saint Mary’s on Thursday.
Gonzaga hosts San Diego on Thursday.