Gonzaga has won the West Coast Conference regular season title for 10 straight years.
The No. 1 Bulldogs beat Santa Clara 81-69 on senior night, playing in the Kennel for the last time this season with former Zags Jalen Suggs, Kelly Olynyk and Killian Tillie in attendance.
Even with stars in the crowd, it was far from Gonzaga’s (23-2, 12-0 WCC) most showstopping performance. The Zags shot 12 of 35 on 3-pointers and 40.3% from the field, as the Broncos (13-5, 8-5) trailed by as little as six points with 9:55 remaining.
Gonzaga went on to outscore SCU 22-9 over the next six minutes.
Drew Timme led the Bulldogs with 23 points and nine rebounds, while Andrew Nembhard added 21 points, eight assists and six rebounds. Chet Holmgren had a double-double with 10 points, 10 rebounds and five blocks. Rasir Bolton had one of his best games of the season with 18 points.
PJ Pipes kept the Broncos in the game with 27 points on 10 of 12 shooting and went 4-for-5 on 3-pointers.
Gonzaga will close out the regular season next week with road games at San Francisco on Thursday (6 pm, ESPN2) and at Saint Mary’s on Saturday (7 pm, ESPN).
15:49 – GU 10, SCU 9: Gonzaga starts with an all-senior lineup of Timme, Nembhard, Bolton, Graves and Lang, who remain on the floor for the first four minutes.
Usual starters Strawther and Holmgren take the place of Lang and Graves a minute before the U16 half timeout.
The Zags start 2 of 6 on 3-pointers and 4 of 8 from the field led by Bolton’s five points.
11:47 – GU16, SCU14: Gonzaga just 1 of its 7 o’clock from the field at the U12 half timeout. Bolton shooting well at 2-for-4 on 3-pointers, while the rest of the team is a combined 2 of 11.
7:39 – GU 24, SCU 18: Gonzaga takes a 6-0 run into the U8 media timeout, starting to get some separation from the Broncos, who’ve shot 38.1% from the field.
Nembhard stuffing the stat sheet with seven points, five rebound and four assists.
3:46 – GU 33, SCU 22: Holmgren makes a pair of highlight blocks and flushes a dunk to give the Zags a 6-0 run into the U4 media timeout.
Holmgren has three blocks in the half. Santa Clara is on at 2:09 scoring drought and have made 1 of its last 8 attempts from the field.
Gonzaga started by honoring his seniors and looked sluggish for the first 10 minutes, but pulled away from Santa Clara with an 11-0 run at the 5:12 minute mark.
Andrew Nembhard is doing it all with 10 points, five rebound and five assists, while Drew Timme has a team-high 11 points.
Chet Holmgren made his presence felt with three blocks. Anton Watson grabbed seven rebounds but committed three personal fouls and will likely remain on the bench for a chunk of the second half.
The Zags shot just 28.6% on 3-pointers and 36.8% from the field – both well below their averages in WCC play. Santa Clara attempted just five 3-pointers to Gonzaga’s 21 and shot 12 of 34 from the field.
15:39 – GU 52, SCU 43: Santa Clara keeping pace with the Zags, shooting 4 of 5 from the field to start the half, as Gonzaga is 4 of 9.
Pipes leads the Broncos with 17 points on 6 of 7 shooting.
11:55 – GU59, SCU46: Watson is called for an offensive foul, his fourth, leading into the U12 half timeout.
The Broncos haven’t made a field goal over the last 3:25 minutes, as both teams have shot 50% from the field in the second half.
Timme leads with 18 points, while Nembhard and Bolton add 13 pieces.
9:53 – GU59, SCU53: Few calls a timeout as the Broncos are on a 7-0 run and the Zags are on a 2:13 minute scoring drought.
Pipes 3-pointer closed the gap to six points, as the guard has been nearly perfect, shooting 8 of 9, 3-for-3 on 3-pointers and scoring a team-high 22 points.
7:58 – GU62, SCU53: Timme converts an and-1 and Strawther is called for his fourth foul at the U8 media timeout.
2:19 – GU78, SCU62: Nembhard makes a couple of 3-pointers to put away Santa Clara at the U4 half timeout.
The Zags will go on to win the WCC regular season title for the 10th straight year.
The stars have aligned for senior night in the Kennel.
Multiple former Gonzaga players in the NBA have returned to Spokane to watch the No. 1 Bulldogs (22-2, 11-0 West Coast) host Santa Clara (13-4, 8-4) tonight at 6 pm on Fox 28/Root .
A win would give the Zags the WCC title during its last home game of the year.
Gonzaga beat the Broncos 115-83 in their first meeting on Jan. 15, as Drew Timme scored a team-high 32 points on 14-for-18 shooting.
Santa Clara has had a successful season, knocking off BYU and Saint Mary’s earlier in the year. The Broncos last beat Loyola Marymount 84-80 on Thursday.
Gonzaga handled Pepperdine on Thursday 86-66, though the Waves pulled within eight points during the second half.
Gonzaga has won the last 20 games against Santa Clara dating back to Jan. 20, 2011. The last time the Broncos beat the Zags in Spokane was on Feb. 12, 2007.
The Bulldogs hold an all-time series lead of 67-30 over the Broncos.
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George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism