Gonzaga escapes 59-56 against San Diego

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SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) - Gonzaga struggled offensively against the West Coast Conference’s leading defense in points allowed, as the Bulldogs scored 23 fewer points than their 81.6 season average.

Sam Dower Jr. scored 18 points and Kevin Pangos made the game’s final shot, as Gonzaga narrowly beat San Diego for the 11th straight time, 59-56, on Thursday night.

“We needed to dig deep, really deep,” Gonzaga coach Mark Few said. “San Diego came in here and got that thing at their pace, and made enough big plays to keep it tight and we haven’t had a tight one for a while. We responded by getting a couple of stops down the stretch and made just enough plays on offense to get it done.”

Gonzaga only allowed one Toreros field goal in the final 6 minutes.

Pangos finished with 11 points for Gonzaga (17-3, 7-1 West Coast Conference) and Przemek Karnowski scored eight of the Bulldogs’ final 12 points.

“I thought he (Karnowski) made real strong, forceful moves in there and there was no doubt they were going in,” Few said. “He really stepped up, quite frankly, when we were kind of struggling a little bit on the offensive end.”

Johnny Dee scored 26 points on 8-of-10 shooting for San Diego (11-10, 2-6). Dennis Kramer added 10 points and seven rebounds. Christopher Anderson, averaging 10.6 points per game, finished with six points and missed a contested 3-pointer at the buzzer.

Pangos ended Gonzaga’s 2-minute-plus scoreless streak with an up-and-under layup for a 59-56 lead with 1:27 left.

The win gave Gonzaga its 33rd win in the last 35 contests against San Diego.

The Toreros have struggled this season in close games, losing six games by a margin of four points or less. San Diego struggled against Gonzaga’s pressure too, making only two field goals in the final 10 minutes.

“We just haven’t made the play or got the stop to win some of these games,” San Diego coach Bill Grier said.

Kyle Dranginis scored the first five points after the intermission as Gonzaga tried to regain its momentum after allowing San Diego to end the first half on a 7-2 run.

Dee and Chris Sarbaugh scored San Diego’s first 11 points of the second half as the Toreros pulled within two.

Gary Bell Jr.’s second basket of the night was a big one, a 3-pointer to push Gonzaga’s lead to 47-42.

But San Diego would not go away quietly.

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