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After close call, No. 9 Gonzaga visits Santa Clara

Jan 5, 2023; San Francisco, California, USA; Gonzaga Bulldogs guard Rasir Bolton (45) loses the ball to San Francisco Dons guard Tyrell Roberts (1) during the first half at War Memorial at the Sobrato Center. Mandatory Credit: D. Ross Cameron-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: D. Ross Cameron-USA TODAY Sports

No. 9 Gonzaga, which had to put together a late comeback to win at San Francisco on Thursday, will try to keep alive a dominating streak against West Coast Conference opponents Saturday when the Bulldogs visit Santa Clara.

Gonzaga (13-3, 2-0 WCC) has not lost to a school in the WCC other than BYU and Saint Mary’s since 2014.

The Bulldogs have won 46 of their past 48 against Santa Clara, including the last 24.

The Broncos’ last win against Gonzaga was at Santa Clara on Jan. 20, 2011. The Bulldogs have won their last 10 games at Santa Clara.

Gonzaga cut a 46-36 halftime deficit to one possession eight times against San Francisco and tied the game twice in the waning minutes before Rasir Bolton grabbed an offensive rebound and made the go-ahead layup with eight seconds left in the 77-75 victory.

The Bulldogs, who have won 80 consecutive games against unranked opponents, led for a total of 1:31 of the game.

“I was just trying to win, just do whatever it took,” said Bolton, who scored 11 of his 21 points in the final 5:15 of the game. “We came out kind of flat. It was a rough game. We battled the whole time trying to fight back. But at the end, we came out with the win.”

Julian Strawther had 16 points and six rebounds and Anton Watson finished with 14 points on 6-of-9 shooting from the field. Wooden Award candidate Drew Timme made 3 of 16 shots from the field and had 11 points.

Santa Clara (14-4, 2-1) is coming off an 89-79 win at Pepperdine on Thursday night behind 27 points, 10 rebounds and six assists by Brandin Podziemski. Parker Braun added 16 points on 7-of-9 shooting from the field.

Carlos Stewart had 14 points and Jaden Bediako finished with nine points and nine rebounds. The Broncos won their first true road game of the season in two tries with the only other such game a 96-74 loss at Utah State on Nov. 14.

“We did a really good job in practice leading up to this of making a point of not looking ahead to what we got Saturday against Gonzaga,” Podziemski said. “That’s obviously what people look forward to. We needed to take care of business tonight because we don’t want to come out of here 1-2 in conference.”

Both of Saturday’s opponents had varied rebounding results in their games Thursday.

Santa Clara won the rebounding battle against Pepperdine 46-32, including 16 offensive rebounds that led to 18 second-chance points.

Gonzaga was outrebounded by San Francisco 45-26. The Dons had 22 second-chance points.

Podziemski leads Santa Clara with 8.6 rebounds per game. He is averaging 18.8 points in a team-leading 35.6 minutes.

Despite Timme’s struggles shooting the ball against San Francisco, he is shooting 62.5 percent from the field. He leads Gonzaga in scoring (21.9 points) and rebounding (8.1).

–Field Level Media