No. 24 Gonzaga 73, Santa Clara 62
Gonzaga’s Robert Sacre knew he made a mistake hanging onto the
rim after a powerful dunk in the second half.
Despite the 7-footer not being able to restrain himself, No. 24
Gonzaga is closing in on at least a share of a possible 12th
straight West Coast Conference title.
”I’m just having fun,” Sacre said after scoring 20 points in
the Bulldogs’ 73-62 victory over Santa Clara on Thursday night. ”I
know I messed up but I’m trying to have fun. When they gave me the
technical, I said not on my watch. We’re not losing.”
The technical briefly sparked the Broncos before the Bulldogs
pulled away behind the interior tandem of Sacre and reserve forward
Dower had 18 points and seven rebounds for Gonzaga, which moved
within one-half game of first-place Saint Mary’s in the WCC. The
Bulldogs (21-4, 11-2) and 21st-ranked Gaels split their two games
”We’re not really trying to focus on that,” Sacre said. ”The
reality is we can’t overlook all those teams (left to play). We
have to stay focused and stay grinding.”
Evan Roquemore had 21 points for Santa Clara (8-18, 0-13), which
has lost a school-record 14 straight since beating Eastern Michigan
on Dec. 29.
The Broncos were able to keep it close but couldn’t mount a
sustained threat. They trailed 45-43 with 14 minutes to play but
couldn’t get closer.
”We’ve found ourselves in a position in the second half where
it goes from one possession to more than that, and we haven’t been
able to overcome that,” Broncos coach Kerry Keating said. ”It’s
been recurring. We knew it was going to happen.”
Sacre led a dominant performance in the paint for Gonzaga. He
and Dower repeatedly scored on uncontested shots inside against the
smaller Broncos and combined to go 13 of 17 from the field while
forcing Santa Clara to settle for perimeter shots.
It nearly worked against the Bulldogs as Roquemore kept the
Broncos close in the second half until Gonzaga pulled away down the
Conference player of the week Kevin Pangos added 10 points for
the Bulldogs, who play two of their final three conference games on
the road, including at San Francisco on Saturday.
Santa Clara was playing its first game since announcing on
Monday that Kevin Foster, the WCC’s leading scorer, would miss the
rest of the season while suspended as a result of his Jan. 21
arrest for driving under the influence.
It was the biggest blemish on what has been a frustrating and
disappointing season for the Broncos, whose losing streak is the
longest in school history.
Sacre had 10 points in the first half, most on short hooks, but
Gonzaga got its biggest lift early from Dower. The sophomore didn’t
miss a shot in the first 20 minutes and scored eight points during
a 13-3 run that gave Gonzaga a 22-14 lead.
Dower, who entered the game averaging 8.8 points, had 12 by
halftime and finished 7 of 8 from the field.
”They were really very efficient,” Gonzaga coach Mark Few said
of Sacre and Dower. ”They were patient and they took shots on
The Bulldogs, who lost 85-71 at the Leavey Center last season,
led by as many as nine points before the Broncos closed within
32-27 at halftime.
Santa Clara stayed close in the second half but had no answer
for Gonzaga’s interior game.
Roquemore’s 3-pointer with 14:09 left pulled Santa Clara within
45-43 and had the near-capacity crowd buzzing. Gonzaga responded
with a 14-4 run.
The game was halted briefly midway through the first half when
the shot clock above one basket went out. The problem was corrected