SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP)Drew Timme and Nolan Hickman scored 20 points each and No. 9 Gonzaga beat Santa Clara 81-76 on Saturday night.
Julian Strawther had 18 points and Ben Gregg grabbed eight rebounds to help the Bulldogs (14-3, 3-0 West Coast Conference) get their 25th straight win against the Broncos. Gonzaga has won 48 of the last 50 meetings.
Gonzaga trailed by one with 90 seconds remaining, but outscored Santa Clara 8-2 over the final 1:14 to pull out the win.
”We had to fight, and we had to dig,” Bulldogs coach Mark Few said.
Hickman, who shot 8 of 9 with four 3-pointers, set a career high in shooting. His last 3 put Gonzaga ahead for good, 76-73 and started the game-ending run.
”That’s always a good thing, just seeing the shots fall,” he said.
Keshawn Justice scored 22 points and Brandin Podziemski added 17 points and seven rebounds for Santa Clara (14-5, 2-2), which led the back-and-forth contest by one with 90 seconds remaining. Parker Braun had 12 points and 11 rebounds for his first double-double of the season.
”We’ve felt good about our team all season,” Santa Clara coach Herb Sendek said. ”Our guys battled tonight and put themselves in a position to have a chance to win.”
Santa Clara controlled the pace early on, leading by 14 points in the first half and limiting Gonzaga’s leading scorer in Timme. But the Bulldogs battled back to trail by one at halftime, then shot 48.3% (14 of 29) – including 4 of 7 from beyond the arc – the rest of the way.
”They’re good,” Few said. ”They’ve got good size, and I thought their intensity tonight was really good. And their physicality was really good, especially in the post. . We did a good job of hanging in there.”
Gonzaga: Timme, who was held to seven points on 3-of-8 shooting in the first half, put up 13 in the second half to put the Zags on top. Recently named to the midseason top 25 watch list for the John R. Wooden Award, Timme is 123 points away from tying Jim McPhee for second place on Gonzaga’s all-time scoring list.
”They didn’t go early, then they started falling,” Timme said. ”It was nice to get them to fall, but I wasn’t worried. Everyone has a game like that. What was I doing, 23 (ppg) and nine (rbg) or something crazy? It was bound to happen.”
Santa Clara: Podziemski continued to produce at a high level. He came into the game as one of just 14 NCAA Division I players (min. 60% games played) averaging at least 18 points and eight rebounds. Gonzaga’s Timme is the only other WCC player on the list.
Gonzaga: The Zags wrap up a three-game road trip at BYU on Thursday.
Santa Clara: The Broncos head on the road to play Pacific on Saturday.
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