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Courtesy: Associated Press

Bulldogs Respond With Starters Out To Down San Francisco

Courtesy: Gonzaga Athletics
          Release: 12/30/2013
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SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) - With two of Gonzaga's starters out with injuries, and a third battling a foot issue, the stage was set for an upset by San Francisco. It didn't happen.

Drew Barham scored 15 points, all on 3-pointers, as No. 24 Gonzaga beat San Francisco 69-41 on Monday night.

Przemek Karnowski added 11 points for Gonzaga (12-2, 2-0 West Coast). David Stockton and Kevin Pangos finished with 10 points each.

''It was a full team effort,'' said Pangos, who is battling turf toe and was held eight points below his scoring average. ''Everyone stepped up and played a big role. Everyone contributed.''

Avry Holmes led cold-shooting San Francisco (8-6, 1-1) with 16 points. The Dons made just 25.5 percent of their shots, to 43 percent for the Zags. Tim Derksen and Mark Tollefsen added 8 points each, while Kruize Pinkins grabbed 10 rebounds.

“I thought we were terrific. We could have felt sorry for ourselves and played the victim role, but we came out and played great. We played with energy, we played together, we played tough, we played very smart, intelligent basketball and it was fun to watch,” Gonzaga head coach Mark Few said. “That was a good offensive team and we held them to 25 percent defensive field goal percentage — they came in shooting 51. That is better than any other team we’ve played all year.”

Gonzaga has won 20 straight conference games spanning three seasons, and the Dons have dropped 25 consecutive games against Gonzaga in Spokane, dating to their last win here in 1989.

Gonzaga played without starting guard Gary Bell Jr., who has a broken hand, and starting forward Sam Dower, who has an injured back. The team announced Monday that Bell, third-leading scorer at 12 points per game, will miss the next four to six weeks because of the injury that occurred in Saturday's win over Santa Clara.

Dower, who fell hard on his back against Kansas State, is being evaluated on a day-to-day basis. He is averaging 13.8 ppg.

Players like Barham and Gerard Coleman have picked up the slack as five Zags scored in double figures. Coleman came off the bench to score 10 points.

`We knew everybody had their back,'' Barham, who made 5 of 10 from 3-point range and added 9 rebounds, said. ''Everybody coming off the bench was going to give their best effort and what happened we could live with.''

Louisville transfer Angel Nunez, playing in just his second game since becoming eligible, had six points, five rebounds and a blocked shot in 14 minutes.

''He's going to be a real threat,'' Pangos said.

San Francisco coach Rex Walters said the fact that Dower and Bell were not playing did not impact his preparations.

''I didn't care about that too much,'' Walters said. ''It was Gonzaga versus USF and you have to play the game.''

Gonzaga scored the first seven points of the game and the Dons had only two field goals in the first 8 minutes to fall behind 11-6. The Zags pushed the lead to 19-10 as San Francisco made just three of its first 16 shots.

The Dons were held without a field goal for more than five minutes and Barham and Pangos sank consecutive 3-pointers as Gonzaga extended its lead to 27-12.

Gonzaga went on a 9-2 run, including another Pangos 3, for a 36-16 lead. The Zags led 41-23 at halftime, despite shooting just 38.5 percent in the first.

San Francisco shot just 27 percent in the first half, making 7 of 26 shots. The Dons sank just four field goals in the final 11 minutes of the first half, including a 3-point buzzer beater by Holmes, who had 11 points in the half.

The Dons also had 16 turnovers which led to 22 Gonzaga points while USF was able to score just three points off 12 Gonzaga turnovers.

“We were active, and when we’re active — or proactive — making plays instead of being reactive, we’re much, much better. And tonight, we were proactive. We want to be proactive every night out, but sometimes it doesn’t happen. Tonight we were, so that was a good thing,” Few said of forcing USF into costly mistakes.

Gonzaga opened the second half with a 13-5 run, including a pair of 3-pointers by Barham, for a 54-28 lead.

All 11 available players saw minutes for the Zags and the bench stepped up and picked up the slack left by the absence of Bell and Dower.

“Yeah, that’s what you want. I think, as a player, you wait and wait for a chance, and then when you get your chance you’ve got to make the most of it. I think, by and large, everybody that got in there, did that tonight,” Few noted.

San Francisco came in averaging 81.9 points per game and 51 percent shooting this season.

Gonzaga is 127-8 in the McCarthey Athletic Center since it opened a decade ago.

The Bulldogs, who hit the mid-way point of a four-game WCC homestand that continues Thursday when Saint Mary's visits, won't have much time to prepare for the Gaels. The stretch concludes Saturday against WCC newcomr University of the Pacific, giving the Bulldogs four games in eight days.

“Well, we’ve got to really watch it because we are getting low on bodies. We’ll probably do just some light walkthroughs and light shooting tomorrow, and then probably practice semi-live the next day," Few said of preparations for the Gaels. "This is a really crazy stretch here, with four (games) in eight days. But it is what it is, so we’ve got to deal with it.”

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