In a wild night, the Gonzaga Bulldogs can now take a deep, deep breath as they escape the quarterfinals of the WCC tournament with a 77-75 victory over Santa Clara.
There were 14 lead changes and eight ties throughout the course of the game, but the Broncos held a lead for most of the second half. Santa Clara clinged to a six point halftime lead most of the second half, but the Bulldogs were hot on their tails. It was not until 4:32 minutes were left in the half that the Zags were able to retake the lead. The game went back and forth, but Gonzaga established a five point lead with 1:32 left to play thanks to six straight free throws from Sam Dower. Down by five points, Evan Roquemore got a 3-point play the old-fashioned way to take the lead to just two. Gary Bell Jr. caught the Bulldogs inbounds pass, but traveled to turn the ball right back over to the Broncos with 32 seconds to play. With nine ticks on the clock, Jared Brownridge took Kyle Dranginis left off the dribble and drilled a mid-range jumper to tie the game. With an opportunity to win the game, senior guard David Stockton weaved past Bronco defenders and scored on a left hand layup with 1.2 seconds left to give Gonzaga the lead. With no timeouts left, John McArthur was forced to take a half-court shot that was blocked, and the Bulldog bench proceeded to celebrate their dramatic victory.
Dower proved he had the clutch gene for the Bulldogs today, scoring 23 points for the Zags tonight. Out of his 23 points, 15 of them came off free throws. Dower was a perfect 15 from 15 from the line and 14 of those free throws came in the second half.
Przemek Karnowski also came up large inside, scoring 16 points off 5-7 shooting and snagging 12 boards. The Polish big man was 6-7 from the free-throw line tonight, which is uncharacteristically efficient for him. Stockton’s four assists were a team-high. Bell Jr. was the Bulldogs third other double-digit scorer with 13 points.
Jared Brownridge was lights out in the first half with 18 points on seven of 10 shooting. He cooled off slightly in the second half, only improving his point total to 26 on the night. The Broncos other primary guards also finished in double figures tonight, with Brandon Clark scoring 14 and Evan Roquemore scoring 12. Clark, Brownridge and Nate Kratch dished out three assists apiece to all lead Santa Clara. Jerry Brown was a force down low tonight with nine points, seven rebounds and three blocks.
Keys to the Game
(X) Perimeter Defense
The Bronco guards lit up Gonzaga, scoring 50 points off 16 of 38 shooting.
(Push) No inside-out action for the Bulldogs
Gonzaga was able to get the ball inside frequently throughout the course of the game, but they did not work the inside-out as much as anticipated. The Broncos closed out well on 3-point shooters, which attests the Bulldogs 2 of 11 (18 percent) performance from outside the parabola today.
Player of the Game
Sam Dower Jr.
Dower’s 23 points and perfect 15 of 15 on free throw shots, most of which were in the second half, were enormous for the Bulldogs.
With the win, Gonzaga will move onto the semifinals and will play the winner of Saint Mary’s and Pepperdine, which is taking place right now.
Santa Clara’s season is likely all over with the loss. In that case, Jerry Brown, John McArthur and Evan Roquemore have played their last game in a Santa Clara uniform.