SPOKANE, WASHINGTON - Fourth-ranked Gonzaga was clinging to a three-point lead over San Francisco late in the first half Thursday when someone flipped the switch on guard Zach Norvell Jr.
Norvell scored 13 consecutive points for the Bulldogs and launched them toward a 92-62 win over San Francisco.
“We got stagnant on offense,” Gonzaga coach Mark Few said of the first-half lull. “We made some real, real silly turnovers in the first half. We needed those shots to get us going,”
Norvell’s streak seemed to ignite the Zags, who outscored San Francisco 49-32 in the second half to post their 13th consecutive victory.
“Things were going back and forth early on,” Norvell said. “In the second half we were able to open things up. And we got stops in the end.”
Brandon Clarke had 20 points, 16 rebounds and five blocks for Gonzaga.
“He was phenomenal,” Few said. “He’s athletic. He’s quick. He’s strong, skilled.”
“I played really hard tonight,” Clarke said. “My teammates found me on my cuts.”
Rui Hachimura added 17 points and Norvell finished with 16 for Gonzaga (22-2, 9-0 West Coast), which was No. 1 in the Top 25 until losses to No. 1 Tennessee and No. 8 North Carolina in mid-December knocked the Zags down. Geno Crandall scored 12.
Frankie Ferrari and Charles Minlend each scored 14 points for San Francisco (17-6, 5-4), which has lost 16 consecutive games to Gonzaga.
“We competed well for the first 16 minutes,” San Francisco coach Kyle Smith said. “We got into some foul trouble and that makes competing against a team like Gonzaga really difficult.”
“We couldn’t get any stops in the second half,” Smith said. “They really pounded the ball inside and exposed us a little bit.”
The Zags have won 19 consecutive home games.
San Francisco was hampered by 38.8 percent shooting and 12 turnovers and lost its third consecutive game.
Gonzaga used an 11-2 run to build a 16-11 lead midway through the first.
Crandall’s 3-pointer put Gonzaga up 28-19, but the Dons scored the next six points.
Norvell scored Gonzaga’s next 13 points, including a trio of 3-pointers, to lift Gonzaga to a 41-30 lead.
Gonzaga led 43-30 at halftime.
The teams traded baskets to open the second half, before Gonzaga went on a 21-7 run to blow the game open with a 72-48 lead.
“Our offense is really, really hard to guard,” Clarke said. “And they struggled to score on us.”