Gonzaga hopes to add to list of achievements against Santa Clara

It seems with every game, Gonzaga reaches another milestone.

The top-ranked Bulldogs will look to add to their accomplishments when they host Santa Clara in a rescheduled West Coast Conference game Thursday night in Spokane, Wash.

The Bulldogs have won 19 consecutive games by double digits, matching the longest single-season streak by a No. 1 team since UNLV won 19 straight by 10 or more in 1990-91. The record for consecutive double-digit wins by a No. 1 is 20 by the undefeated national champion 1971-1972 UCLA Bruins.

Gonzaga is also a win away from matching a program record with a 50-game home winning streak. The Zags got No. 49 with a 106-69 victory against San Diego on Saturday as their trio of player of the year candidates, Drew Timme, Jalen Suggs and Corey Kispert, led the way with 21, 17 and 16 points, respectively.

It was the 26th victory in a row overall for the Bulldogs (22-0 overall, 13-0 WCC), who have wrapped up the conference's regular-season title.

"We're just becoming more mature and understand that just winning these games doesn't necessarily mean we're going to get a guaranteed national championship," Gonzaga guard Andrew Nembhard said. "We have to raise our level and keep improving every day, so that's what we've been trying to do. It's kind of shown in our play lately."

Timme, the Bulldogs' sophomore big man who leads the team in scoring (19.1 points per game) and rebounding (7.1), has topped the 20-point mark in six of his past eight games and reached double figures in all but one game this season.

"He has got great footwork, he has got great hands, he's got a variety of ways to score," Gonzaga coach Mark Few said. "He's hard to double because he doesn't score in conventional ways, but I'm sure eventually we are going to probably see more and more of that."

This will be the first meeting between the Zags and Santa Clara (10-6, 4-4) this season. Scheduled games Feb. 6 in Spokane and Feb. 11 in the Bay Area were postponed because the Broncos were dealing with coronavirus concerns.

Those were two of six consecutive Santa Clara games wiped out between Jan. 28 and Feb. 13.

The Broncos suffered back-to-back losses to Loyola Marymount and San Diego before edging visiting Pepperdine 86-82 Saturday as senior forward Josip Vrankic scored 26 points.

"Josip does everything well. He's what makes us go," said guard Jalen Williams, who added 17 points. "I'm trying to play around Josip and make sure he gets touches and make sure everyone is kind of in flow of the game, and then take my opportunities when I get them."

Santa Clara has played its past three games without second-leading scorer Keshawn Justice, a 6-foot-7 junior forward, due to concussion protocol.

The Broncos scored 52 points in the second half against the Pepperdine, a season-high.

"Our guys battled, played with heart and fortitude," Santa Clara coach Herb Sendek said. "It was a total team effort."

Gonzaga has won 21 straight meetings between the schools dating to 2011.

--Field Level Media

02/24/2021 0:30

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