Spokane, WA (SportsNetwork.com) - The sixth-ranked Gonzaga Bulldogs go in search of their eighth consecutive victory on Thursday, as they play host to the San Francisco Dons in West Coast Conference action at the McCarthey Athletic Center.
San Francisco comes into the fray two games under .500 on the season (7-9), and looking to put the brakes on a three-game losing streak. After a 3-0 start, the Dons have gone just 4-9, and they've won only one of their first four WCC bouts, that coming in the opener at Pacific (77-71).
Gonzaga continues to plug along as one of the top teams in the nation, as coach Mark Few's club is 14-1 overall, which includes a 3-0 league ledger. The Zags took down the Portland Pilots (87-75) in their most recent outing, doing so on the road where the team has been victorious five times this season. Gonzaga is 7-0 at home.
Gonzaga owns a 48-22 advantage in the all-time series with San Francisco, and the Bulldogs have won the last four meetings. The Dons' last triumph came at home in a 66-65 final on Feb. 18, 2012.
The Dons struggled at both ends of the court in their recent clash with BYU, a 99-68 home loss, as they shot 41.4 percent from floor, only 29.2 percent from 3-point range, while allowing the Cougars to drain 60 percent of their total shots, which included a 15-of-28 showing from beyond the arc. Kruize Pinkins paced USF with 15 points, while Kevin Watson had 13, Mark Tollefson a dozen and Tim Derkens 11 in the disappointing outcome. BYU logged a sizable 40-28 rebounding edge, and it had five players score in double figures, led by Tyler Haws with 22 points and Chase Fischer with 20.
San Francisco hasn't been terrible at the offensive end this season, as it produces 71.6 ppg behind typical shooting efforts of .464 overall and .383 from 3-point land. A woeful 57.7 percent performance at the foul line has clearly hurt the team, offsetting any benefit it gets from logging positive differentials in both rebounding (+5.5) and turnovers (+0.6). Tollefson and Pinkins are neck and neck as the Dons' top scorers, netting 15.1 and 15.0 ppg, respectively, and Derkens adds to 11.8 ppg to the mix.
Gonzaga made good on 56.9 percent of its field goal attempts and went 23-of-28 at the charity stripe to thwart the upset bid of the hometown Portland Pilots last Saturday. Przemek Karnowski and Kevin Pangos each scored 21 points for the Bulldogs, who also got double-digit scoring efforts from Gary Bell, Jr. (12) and Byron Wesley (10). Most statistical areas saw the teams finish at a near standstill, but Portland converted only 13-of-21 free throws, which provided much of the scoring difference.
Kyle Wiltjer, who went just 3-of-10 from the field to finish with eight points against the Pilots, continues to lead Gonzaga in scoring as he nets 16.5 ppg. Pangos (12.1 ppg, 5.0 apg), Wesley (11.9 ppg) and Karnowski (10.6 ppg, 6.5 rpg) round out the double-digit scorers for the Zags, who shoot a stellar 52.8 percent from the field, draining 39.3 percent of their 3-point tries along the way, all of which results in a scoring average of 82.5 ppg. The team's defensive effort allows foes to tally just 61.5 ppg, as they connect on only 38.5 percent of their field goal attempts, which includes a 30.8 percent showing from downtown. The Bulldogs outwork the opposition on the glass by a whopping 9.7 rpg, and they are +1.9 in turnover margin as well.