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No. 9 Gonzaga rallies to hold off Santa Clara, 81-76

Jan 7, 2023; Santa Clara, California, USA; Santa Clara Broncos guard Brandin Podziemski (22) dribbles the ball against Gonzaga Bulldogs forward Ben Gregg (33) during the first half at Leavey Center. Mandatory Credit: Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

Nolan Hickman scored a career-high 20 points, including a pivotal 3-pointer for the go-ahead basket late, to lead No. 9 Gonzaga to an 81-76 victory over host Santa Clara in a West Coast Conference game Saturday night.

Drew Timme added 20 points, six rebounds and four assists, and Julian Strawther finished with 18 points, six rebounds and four assists for Gonzaga (14-3, 3-0 WCC).

The game featured 19 lead changes and 11 ties.

Santa Clara (14-5, 2-2) scored six unanswered points capped by Carlos Stewart’s jumper with 1:36 remaining to take a 74-73 lead.

Gonzaga went without a field goal for 2:27 before Hickman made a 3-pointer with 1:13 remaining to put the Bulldogs ahead 76-74. Hickman was 4 of 5 from 3-point range for the game.

After a missed layup by Santa Clara’s Brandin Podziemski, Anton Watson made two free throws with 55 seconds left to increase Gonzaga’s lead to 78-74.

Podziemski then missed a 3-pointer and Gonzaga’s Strawther made two free throws with 38 seconds left.

Stewart missed a jumper afterward to end Santa Clara’s hopes.

Santa Clara was led Keshawn Justice’s 22 points. Podziemski added 17 points, seven rebounds and five assists, and Parker Braun had 12 points and 11 rebounds.

Gonzaga has not lost to a school in the WCC other than BYU and St. Mary’s since 2014.

The Bulldogs have won 25 straight games against Santa Clara and hold a 48-4 record in the series. They have an 11-game winning streak at Santa Clara.

Gonzaga, which trailed at San Francisco by as many as 12 points before rallying to win Thursday, fell behind 30-16 against Santa Clara with 6:55 left in the first half.

The 14-point comeback for a win was Gonzaga’s largest of the season.

The Bulldogs went on a 13-0 run after trailing 30-16 with Hickman, Timme and Strawther each making two shots.

The teams traded scores over the next seven possessions and Santa Clara took a 37-36 lead into halftime.

Gonzaga went on a 7-0 run capped by Hickman’s 3-pointer with 7:04 left to take a 66-62 lead.

The Bulldogs led 69-64 with 5:34 remaining on Hickman’s layup.

–Field Level Media