Gonzaga holds off USF, sets up WCC title showdown vs St Mary’s

Mar 6, 2023, 3:10 PM | Updated: Mar 7, 2023, 8:38 pm

Gonzaga USF...

Khalil Shabazz of San Francisco Dons shoots against Drew Timme of Gonzaga in a WCC semifinal game. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

(Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

LAS VEGAS (AP) — The championship matchup that seemed inevitable will take place Tuesday night, but No. 9 Gonzaga had to work to make it happen.

Anton Watson scored 20 points and Drew Timme had 17 to help the Bulldogs beat pesky San Francisco 84-73 on Monday night and advance to yet another West Coast Conference title game.

Gonzaga 84, San Francisco 73: Box score

“I thought Anton was spectacular tonight and it was just big time, especially (that) they chose not to guard him,” Gonzaga coach Mark Few said. “I’m not sure why teams are doing that right now because he’s playing at an extremely high level, but we’re glad to see it. He went out there and delivered in so many ways like he always does.”

The Bulldogs (27-5) will face No. 16 Saint Mary’s (26-6) for the tournament crown. The teams split two regular-season meetings.

“We kind of have a respected hatred for each other,” Timme said. “We all play hard and it brings out the best in all of us, and that’s what the game is all about. It’s kind of like a controlled rage. It happens between the two programs and there’s no love lost, but at the end of the day, we respect each other.”

Julian Strawther scored 15 points while playing in his hometown and Ben Gregg had 12 for Gonzaga.

Timme increased his total to 2,192 points and moved within five of passing Frank Burgess for Gonzaga’s career record.

Khalil Shabazz, a product of Seattle’s Rainier Beach High School, led San Francisco (20-14) with 26 points. Tyrell Roberts, who transferred to the Dons from WSU, scored 17 while Marcus Williams added 11.

Gonzaga is in the conference championship game for the 26th time in a row. The Zags have won this event 20 times.

They enter on an eight-game winning streak. Gonzaga’s last loss? In overtime at Saint Mary’s.

Getting to this championship game was anything but easy against San Francisco, which was the sixth seed and beat third-seeded Santa Clara 93-87 on Saturday. Shabazz scored a career-high 38 points in that game, and he was quite a handful for Gonzaga.

Shabazz kept the Dons within striking distance most of the night. San Francisco pulled to 56-54 with 11:59 left, but Gonzaga then eased away to secure the victory.

“We had that game down to a one-possession game,” San Francisco coach Chris Gerlufsen said. “Had two possessions where it was a two-point margin and just could not get over the hump in that segment.”


San Francisco: There were questions about whether the Dons would take a step forward this season after coach Todd Golden left for Florida after taking San Francisco to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1998. Gerlufsen kept the Dons relevant with a 20-win season, but San Francisco is a tough place to win. Whether he can sustain it is the question.

Gonzaga: Few continues to win at a high rate. The Bulldogs have made the WCC final in 24 years under his watch, and a victory Tuesday would be his 19th conference tournament championship. Gonzaga is 50-5 under Few in this tournament, including 31-3 since it relocated to Las Vegas in 2009.


Gonzaga will play for a potential No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament when it faces Saint Mary’s.

San Francisco waits to see if it has a shot at the NIT.

Gonzaga up to No. 9, surging UCLA No. 2 in AP men’s hoops top 25


NBA Draft Isaac Jones WSU Cougars...

Zac Hereth

NBA Draft Primer: WSU, UW and Gonzaga prospects in the mix

A glance at the four players with Washington ties who are prospects for the upcoming 2024 NBA Draft, which takes place June 26-27.

27 days ago

Seattle U Grand Canyon WCC 2024...

Cameron Van Til

A new home: Seattle U to join West Coast Conference in 2025

Seattle U will join the West Coast Conference as a full-time member in 2025 along with Grand Canyon University, the league announced.

2 months ago

Seattle Storm draft WNBA Nika Mühl...

Brent Stecker

WNBA Draft: See Seattle Storm picks, plus where Zags landed

The Seattle Storm picked a player who shined defensively against Caitlin Clark, while two Gonzaga players were taken in the 2024 WNBA Draft.

3 months ago

Dan Monson EWU coach...

Brent Stecker

The coach who started Gonzaga’s rise returns to WA with EWU

Dan Monson, who was at the helm when the Gonzaga started its streak of 25 straight NCAA Tournaments, is returning to Washington as EWU coach.

3 months ago


Tim Booth

Texas’ defense dominates Gonzaga with 69-47 win in Sweet 16

Texas used a smothering defense to roll past fourth-seeded Gonzaga 69-47 on Friday night in the Portland 4 Regional semifinal.

4 months ago

Gonzaga Purdue NCAA Tournament...

Eddie Pells

Zach Edey leads Purdue over Gonzaga 80-68 in Sweet 16

Purdue's Zach Edey had 27 points and 14 rebounds to lift the Boilermakers to an 80-68 victory over the Gonzaga Bulldogs in the Sweet 16.

4 months ago

Gonzaga holds off USF, sets up WCC title showdown vs St Mary’s