Zags and Dons duke it out in WCC action

The fifth-ranked Gonzaga Bulldogs continue their quest for yet another West Coast Conference regular-season title, as they head out on the road to challenge the San Francisco Dons at War Memorial Gymnasium on Saturday afternoon.

Gonzaga is enjoying its highest national ranking ever, and it is certainly well-deserved as the team is 24-2 overall and a perfect 11-0 in conference. The Bulldogs were recently in action against rival Saint Mary's on Thursday, and it was actually no contest as the Zags rolled the Gaels in a 77-60 final in Moraga, California. The win improved GU to 8-1 in true road games this season.

San Francisco comes into this fray three games under .500 at 11-14, and it has lost twice as many conference games as it has won (4-8). The Dons are fresh off a 78-76 loss to visiting Portland on Thursday, dropping their home record to an even 6-6, and they have now lost three of their last five.

Gonzaga routed San Francisco in the first meeting between these two in Spokane on Jan. 26, 66-52, to raise its lead in the all-time series to 45-22. The Dons have been competitive of late however, as the teams have split each of the last three season series.

With three double-digit scorers in the fold, Gonzaga has had little difficulty putting points on the scoreboard this season, netting a WCC-best 78.6 ppg behind typical shooting efforts of .507 overall, .390 from 3-point range, and .710 from the foul line. At the defensive end, the Bulldogs yield a league-low 61.2 ppg by holding foes to .394 field goal efficiency. Kelly Olynyk (17.7 ppg, 6.8 rpg), Elias Harris (14.4 ppg, 7.2 rpg) and Kevin Pangos (12.1 ppg, 3.5 apg) lead the Zags on most nights, but it was Gary Bell, Jr. who paced the club in the big win over Saint Mary's, as he hit four treys on his way to 20 points. Pangos added 18 and Olynyk finished with 17 points and seven rebounds. The Zags shot an even 50 percent from the floor, making good on 9-of-17 3- point attempts, while the Gaels were held to 39.7 percent field goal efficiency while being outrebounded, 37-25. A 20-2 edge in points from the foul line also played an integral role in the win for Gonzaga.

San Francisco averages a healthy 70.4 ppg, doing so behind a stellar 40.7 percent effort from 3-point range. Unfortunately, the team allows 70.2 ppg and owns negative differentials in both rebounding (-2.1) and turnovers (-0.6). Cole Dickerson (14.6 ppg, 9.8 rpg) is one of the top two-way performers in the conference, and he is joined in the double-digit scorers club by De'End Parker (12.4 ppg) and Cody Doolin (12.3 ppg, 5.8 apg). Dickerson and Chris Adams both had productive outings in the recent loss to Portland, netting 17 points apiece, while Parker hit for 14, Avry Holmes had 12 and Doolin chipped in with 11 points while dishing out six assists. USF drained 9-of-22 3-point tries in the contest, but the Pilots shot 50 percent from the field and claimed a 40-33 edge on the glass.