Drew Timme will aim to become the all-time leading scorer in the history of the storied program when No. 10 Gonzaga faces San Francisco in the West Coast Conference tournament semifinals on Monday night in Las Vegas.
Timme needs 22 points to surpass Frank Burgess (2,196 from 1958-61) as the Bulldogs’ top scorer. Burgess set the mark in three seasons while Timme is in his fourth campaign.
“I’ve been here a while and I’ve had a bunch of big games and I still feel like I’m so far away from him. It’s hard to process,” Timme told the Spokesman-Review. “Who knows if I’ll get it. I don’t, no one does, so I’ve just got to keep playing and do what it takes to win. That’s all that matters.”
Timme enters with a 21.1 scoring average while shooting 61.8 percent from the field.
The Bulldogs (26-5) shared the regular-season title with No. 17 Saint Mary’s but are just the No. 2 seed in the WCC tournament.
Both teams posted 14-2 league marks and split the regular-season series. The Gaels were awarded the top seed for the WCC tournament due to having a higher NCAA NET ranking at the close of the WCC regular season. Saint Mary’s was No. 7 at the time and Gonzaga was No. 9.
Gonzaga has won or shared 11 straight regular-season titles and has also dominated the tourney during coach Mark Few’s tenure. The Bulldogs are 49-5 in the tournament and 18-5 in the championship game under Few.
Gonzaga last played Wednesday, when it routed Chicago State 104-65 in a nonconference meeting, and is now bracing for a packed month of basketball.
“We’re going to keep this thing going and we’re going to keep winning in March,” Bulldogs guard Rasir Bolton said.
Sixth-seeded San Francisco (20-13, 7-9) opened the tournament with an 80-63 win over seventh-seeded Pacific before delivering an epic 93-87 double-overtime win over third-seeded Santa Clara on Saturday night.
“That was one of the best college basketball games I’ve been a part of in my 24, 25 years of coaching,” Dons coach Chris Gerlufsen said afterward.
Khalil Shabazz scored a career-high 38 points and had a career-best seven 3-pointers, seven rebounds, five assists and four steals while playing 48 of the 50 minutes.
San Francisco trailed by 10 points with under five minutes remaining in regulation before revving into gear.
“We just didn’t want to lose,” Shabazz said. “Us being able to come back from that deficit and showing what type of team we are is big time for us. I was telling the guys in the locker room that earlier in the season we wouldn’t have won this game.”
Shabazz leads the Dons in scoring (17.5), rebounding (5.4), assists (3.0), steals (72) and 3-point baskets (89).
San Francisco has typically struggled against the Zags and has dropped the past 26 meetings since posting a 66-65 home win in 2012. This season, Gonzaga defeated the Dons 77-75 in San Francisco on Jan. 5 and posted a 99-81 home win on Feb. 9.
Bolton averaged 22 points in the two meetings while Timme averaged 16 but was just 3-of-16 shooting in the first matchup while scoring 11 points.
Shabazz averaged 21 points against the Bulldogs and is craving another shot.
“Just another opponent,” Shabazz said. “We’ll come out aggressive and just play our game and make a couple shots and I think we’ll be straight.”
Saint Mary’s faces BYU in the other semifinal earlier Monday night.
–Field Level Media