SAN FRANCISCO — Brandon Clarke scored 24 points and No. 5 Gonzaga got a tiebreaking 3-pointer from Zach Norvell Jr. with less than three minutes remaining to spark a 15-2 run to finish off a 96-83 victory over San Francisco on Saturday night.
Rui Hachimura added 21 points and Josh Perkins added 16 with some clutch baskets down the stretch to lead the Bulldogs (16-2, 3-0 WCC) to their 17th straight conference win, including the postseason tournament.
The Dons (14-3, 2-1) lost by 28 points to Gonzaga in the WCC semifinals last year but showed they have closed the gap a bit this season behind another strong performance by Frankie Ferrari, who led the way with 21 points.
Ferrari hit three free throws with 5:24 to play to give the Dons a 75-74 lead, their first edge since early in the first half. The game went back and forth from there with Perkins hitting a pull-up and a 3-pointer for Gonzaga and USF answering with a reverse by Jordan Ratinho and a floater from Ferrari.
The game turned in Gonzaga’s favor when Norvell hit his 3 to make it 84-81. After Jimbo Lull missed a shot down low for the Dons, drawing complaints for a foul by coach Kyle Smith, the Bulldogs answered with another 3 by Geno Crandall to take control.
Clarke added a key block late to help seal Gonzaga’s 15th straight win in the series.
This was one of the tougher contests as USF seemed poised for its first win against a top five team since beating No. 5 Wichita State in Hawaii on Dec. 29, 1981, before falling just short at the end.
Gonzaga built a 10-point lead before the Dons closed the first half on a 16-6 run helped by three baskets from Ferrari to tie the game at 37 at the break.
WASHINGTON 77, COLORADO 70
Jaylen Nowell scored seven of his 19 points down the stretch to help Washington hold off Colorado 77-70 on Saturday night.
David Crisp added 16 points for Washington (12-4, 3-0 Pac-12), which has won five straight.
The Buffaloes (10-6, 1-3) lost their leading scorer and spark when guard McKinley Wright IV left the game with 8:04 left in the first half. Wright was hit on the left shoulder in the lane and immediately grabbed at the joint. He was looked at by the medical staff and then helped to the locker room. He did not return to the game or the bench.
D’Shawn Schwartz picked up the slack with 22 points, including four 3-pointers — both career highs. Tyler Bey had 15 points and nine rebounds.
The Huskies led 15 early in the second half and then had to withstand a big Colorado rally. The Buffaloes used a 9-0 run, with Schwartz scoring the first seven, to get 63-62 with 7:14 left.
Nowell answered with a layup as he and Matisse Thybulle combined to score 13 of Washington’s final 14 points. Thybulle was fouled on a 3-point shot and hit all three free throws and, after Daylen Kountz had his layup blocked on the other end, Nowell hit a jumper in the lane with 2:42 left to give the Huskies an eight-point lead.
UTAH 88, WASHINGTON STATE 70
Utah brought in its highest rated freshman class in the Pac-12 era before the start of the season. A few of those first-year players are starting to show what made them so special as recruits.
Timmy Allen, Both Gach, and Riley Battin led a balanced attack on offense and defense that powered Utah to an 88-70 victory over Washington State on Saturday night. The three freshmen made their presence felt all over the court. They scored tons of key baskets and set up plenty of others, collected rebounds, and made stops at critical junctures.
Allen ended up leading the Utes with 15 points and nine rebounds. Gach added 14 points while Battin chipped in 11.
It offered a taste of what could be ahead for Utah if the trio continues to progress.
“We’re a deep group,” Allen said. “We’ve got somebody at every position. We’re going to be a problem in the years coming. Just keep your eyes out for sure.”
Charles Jones, Jr. also scored 11 points while Sedrick Barefield and Parker Van Dyke chipped in 10 apiece for the Utes. Barefield also dished out seven assists. It marked the first time Utah had six players score in double figures since a 96-53 win over Concordia (Ore.) on Nov. 15, 2016.
Utah (8-8, 2-2 Pac-12) snapped a two-game losing streak and beat the Cougars for the 17th consecutive time in Salt Lake City, dating back to 1946.
C.J. Elleby scored 21 points and Isaiah Wade added 12 to lead Washington State. The Cougars (7-9, 0-3) have lost all eight games they have played outside Pullman this season.
“One guy can’t beat these teams and so they are going to have to understand how to play together, how to grow together, how to share the ball together and that’s the key to it,” Washington State coach Ernie Kent said. “The good thing is they figured it out in the last 12 minutes and we can take it back home and continue to build off of it because it was not pretty in the first 30-35 minutes of this game and we did not play well at all.”