San Francisco-Gonzaga Preview
Beginning West Coast Conference play banged up isn't an ideal situation for Gonzaga, but it proved its last time out it has others ready to pick up the slack.
The 24th-ranked Bulldogs seek a 21st straight home conference victory when it hosts San Francisco on Monday night.
Starting forward Sam Dower Jr. suffered a back injury in Gonzaga's loss to Kansas State on Dec. 21, forcing him to miss Saturday's 74-60 win over Santa Clara.
With leading scorer Kevin Pangos, averaging 18.2 points, missing time in the second half due to a nagging toe injury and guard Gary Bell Jr. nursing a hand problem suffered in the opening minutes, senior guard David Stockton scored a career-high 21 points to help the Bulldogs (11-2, 1-0) pull out the victory in their WCC opener.
Gonzaga's last conference loss at home was a 73-71 defeat to Saint Mary's on Jan. 27, 2011.
Pangos finished with 17 points Saturday despite his injury, while Przemek Karnowski added 10 and eight rebounds. Stockton's previous season high was 10 points, set twice. He entered the contest averaging 6.2 and shooting just 40.6 percent.
''We had to dig in deep, get to about option E or F and we found a way to do that,'' coach Mark Few said.
Dower, averaging 13.8 points and 6.8 rebounds, is considered day to day, while Bell has struggled even when he has been on the floor. He went 1 for 7 against Kansas State and 1 for 4 in 16 minutes Saturday, and he's scored fewer than five points in three of his last five games.
''We have to step up,'' said Stockton, who scored 15 points in the second half. ''We have to hold the fort until they get back.''
Gonzaga has won 19 straight regular-season conference games overall, with the last defeat coming on a short jumper with 3.3 seconds remaining that gave San Francisco a 66-65 victory on Feb. 18, 2012.
The Bulldogs, though, have never lost at home to San Francisco in 30 all-time meetings dating back to 1981. Pangos had 11 points in Gonzaga's 66-52 win Jan. 26 in the most recent matchup.
The Dons again will be seeking the upset after beating Portland 87-81 on Saturday in their conference opener.
Chris Adams hit a tying 3-pointer with 0.1 seconds remaining in regulation before San Francisco (8-5, 1-0) hung on in OT. Mark Tollefsen scored 12 points, while leading scorer Cole Dickerson finished with 13 and 11 rebounds.
"I'm just really proud of our guys for battling back after being down by eight at halftime," coach Rex Walters said. "Our attention to executing the game plan was terrific and Mark and Avry (Holmes) played really well all night. And what can you say about Chris' three to tie the game?"
Holmes had his second straight 15-point performance after averaging 7.2 and shooting 30.0 percent over his previous six.
"This could be a breakout game for Avry at the point guard position in terms of confidence," Walters said. "He made a lot of big plays."
Gonzaga ranks second in the WCC in scoring at 84.5 points per game, though San Francisco is right behind at 81.9. The Dons, though, rank eighth in the 10-team conference allowing an average of 77.0 points.