Gonzaga vs Santa Clara

Time: 11:00 P.M. EST
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Gonzaga has dominated West Coast Conference opponents in recent seasons, and Santa Clara has not provided an exception.

Last year, Broncos fans may have helped the Bulldogs earn a ninth straight win at Santa Clara, where 13th-ranked Gonzaga will try for a 22nd consecutive victory over a conference foe Thursday night.

The Bulldogs (16-3, 5-0) won their eighth in a row overall and kept their bid alive for a second straight unbeaten season in league play with a 85-69 home victory over Loyola Marymount on Saturday.

The last WCC loss for Gonzaga was a 69-62 defeat at San Diego in the 2008 conference title game. That's one of only two defeats for the Bulldogs in their last 42 WCC games, and they haven't left Santa Clara with a loss since Feb. 22, 2001.

During their 81-73 win there Feb. 26, they got two key points on free throws from a technical foul during a tiebreaking 11-2 run in the second half after the crowd threw debris onto the court. Another object was thrown from the stands later in the game, resulting in another technical and two more made free throws by the Bulldogs.

"That was unfortunate," Gonzaga coach Mark Few said. "You have to do something, too. I think the (plastic) bottle hit one of our players the first time. ... It's too bad. There's no place for it in college basketball or professional basketball or any sports."

Few's team had an even closer call in its previous visit to Santa Clara, needing two overtimes to win 87-82 on Feb. 2, 2008.

"It's going to be a war with Gonzaga," Broncos coach Kerry Keating told the school's official Web site. "It has been at home the last two years and we hope we'll be ready."

The Bulldogs have won 20 of their last 21 against Santa Clara, including a 94-59 victory in last season's WCC tournament semifinals.

Gonzaga shot nearly 56 percent in that matchup and made at least 50 percent for the seventh time in eight games Saturday, boosting its season average to 49.8 - among the top 10 nationally. Loyola Marymount coach Max Good compared facing the Bulldogs to "walking in a minefield."

Freshman Elias Harris made the biggest impact for Gonzaga on Saturday, shooting 8 of 12 from the field and scoring 22 points - his fourth straight game with at least 20. The emerging German forward is averaging 20.9 points and 10.3 rebounds during the Bulldogs' winning streak.

"It's amazing how easy he seems to get to 20 points and 10 rebounds," junior Steven Gray said of Harris. "It seems like he can score at will. He's a huge part of this team's success."

The contributions of Gray and fellow guard Matt Bouldin have been less surprising. Bouldin, a senior, had 19 points against Loyola, two days after scoring a career-high 32 in a 91-84 win over Pepperdine. Gray had 18 on Saturday and is averaging 17.3 points in his last four contests.

If there is a concern for the Bulldogs, it could be with a defense that is allowing an average of 69.3 points - 6.3 more than their opponents averaged last season.

Defense is unlikely to be an issue against Santa Clara, which has lost six of seven at home and ranks seventh in the eight-team WCC in both scoring (65.9 points per game) and field-goal percentage (41.2).

The Broncos (9-13, 1-4) are coming off their first conference win and second victory in 10 games overall, 66-65 at San Francisco on Saturday behind Marc Trasolini's career-high 26 points.

"We needed this win," Keating said. "Enough with learning."

Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
 
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West Coast
TeamConf. W-LTot. W-L
Gonzaga15-329-7
BYU13-523-12
San Fran.13-521-12
St. Marys11-723-12
Pepperdine8-1015-16
San Diego7-1118-17
Portland7-1115-16
Pacific6-1218-16
Santa Clara6-1214-19
Loyola-Mary.4-1413-19
 

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Key Players
Matt<br>Bouldin
Matt
Bouldin
G, GONZAG
35.5 Min. Per Game 31.5 Kevin<br>Foster
Kevin
Foster
G, SNCLRA
16.4 Pts. Per Game 19.8
4.2 Ast. Per Game 2.8
4.4 Reb. Per Game 2.8
45.7 Field Goal % 32.4
39.4 Three Point % 31
84.4 Free Throw % 83.3
 
 
 
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