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Gonzaga Bulldogs forward Drew Timme (2) drives the lane. (Photo by Bob Kupbens/Icon Sportswire)
March 7th, 2022
The No. 1 Gonzaga Bulldogs will meet the San Francisco Dons for the third time since late January when the two teams clash in the semifinal of the West Coast Conference Tournament, set for tipoff at 9 p.m. ET in Orleans Arena.
The fourth-seeded Dons earned their spot in the conference semifinal — and potentially solidified a bid to the NCAA Tournament — with their 75-63 victory over BYU on Saturday.
Senior guard Khalil Shabazz scored 22 points and hit five of his nine 3-point tries, while leading scorer Jamaree Bouyea poured in 18 points and grabbed six rebounds. The team shot 42.9% from the field and held the Cougars to just 37.9% shooting, including a measly 15% (3-of-20) from deep.
The former school of NBA legend Bill Russell, San Francisco (24-8) positioned itself for its first March Madness berth since 1998, but a win against Gonzaga on Monday would eliminate any doubt the Dons will go dancing.
No WCC team not named Gonzaga, BYU or St. Mary’s has gotten an at-large bid in 20 years. That will change in less than eight days. What an incredible job Todd Golden and staff have done at San Francisco. Would be stunning if Dons aren’t dancing.— Kevin Sweeney (@CBB_Central) March 6, 2022
No WCC team not named Gonzaga, BYU or St. Mary’s has gotten an at-large bid in 20 years. That will change in less than eight days. What an incredible job Todd Golden and staff have done at San Francisco. Would be stunning if Dons aren’t dancing.
Toppling the Bulldogs in their third meeting of the season will be a tall task. Gonzaga just beat San Francisco, 89-73, on the road on Feb. 24, and won by the same 16-point margin in a Jan. 20 meeting in Spokane.
The 24-3 Bulldogs have had more than a week to rest since they suffered their only conference loss of the season to then-No. 23 St. Mary's, 67-57. That defeat came on a historic day for college basketball, as all six of the top teams in the AP Top 25 poll lost on the same day, and seven of the top nine fell. Only then-No. 7 Duke prevailed.
In the loss to St. Mary's, Gonzaga hit just 36.7% of its shots and was outscored 17-5 in the final seven minutes before halftime, while the Bulldogs' top scorer Drew Timme was rendered ineffective for most of the game. The junior forward missed all eight of his shots in the first half and finished with just six points.
Against San Francisco, Timme scored a team-high 23 points in the first matchup and added 20 points, nine rebounds, and eight assists in the second.
The last time the Bulldogs failed to reach the WCC tourney final was 1997, when St. Mary's won the WCC crown by defeating San Francisco.
While the Dons will come in hot from their win over BYU, Gonzaga is a whole different beast.
The Bulldogs had an off night against St. Mary's, but they'll get their shot back against a team that struggled to contain Timme and let Gonzaga hit 50% from beyond the arc last time out.
We've already seen how San Francisco and Gonzaga match up, and the third time won't be much different. Look for Gonzaga to pull away in the second half to secure its third straight WCC tournament championship and ninth title since 2013.
Score prediction: Gonzaga 85, San Francisco 68
Our predictive engine is calling for Gonzaga to win outright and cover the spread.
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