No. 4 Gonzaga looks to continue roll versus San Diego
Next up for No. 4 Gonzaga in the West Coast Conference, after the Bulldogs dismantled BYU 93-63 on Thursday night, is a well-rested San Diego team that has not played in a week after capturing one of its most impressive wins of the season.
The Toreros (15-7, 4-3 WCC) rallied from 14 points down with 18:55 left to give San Francisco only its fourth loss of the season with a 67-63 win at San Diego last Saturday.
Meanwhile, Gonzaga (20-2, 7-0) has a quick turnaround hosting San Diego on Saturday night after routing BYU in Provo, Utah, on Thursday.
The little rest while playing a team with fresh legs is likely one of only a few concerns for Gonzaga with the way the Bulldogs are playing.
Brandon Clarke had 23 points and Rui Hachimura added 20 against BYU. They each had nine rebounds. Josh Perkins finished with 10 assists.
The Bulldogs gave the Cougars their first 30-point home loss since Dave Rose became coach in 2005.
Gonzaga, which plays San Diego again on the road in two weeks, shot 37 of 63 (59 percent) from the field against BYU, including 10 for 20 from 3-point range. BYU shot only 36.9 percent from the floor.
In seven WCC games, the Bulldogs are winning by an average of 31 points.
"Our guys are taking the game plans to heart and they're going out and playing with great effort," Gonzaga coach Mark Few said.
San Diego, one of the surprise teams in the WCC this year, enters the game with three wins in its last four games. In that span, they have played without second-leading scorer Olin Carter III, who has an abdominal injury. His status for Saturday's game is questionable.
The Toreros' leading scorer and rebounder is Isaiah Pineiro (averages of 19.5 points and 8.8 rebounds), who led the rally against San Francisco. After a six-point, one-rebound first half, Pineiro finished with 22 points and 13 rebounds.
"I decided to be more aggressive," said Pineiro, who achieved his seventh double-double of the season. "I was playing too tentative, especially rebounding. I just tried stepping up to the challenge and be more aggressive, not worry about the outcome. And it seemed to work."
San Diego is in its first season under Sam Scholl, who is turning heads with the way he's leading the Toreros following a tumultuous season last year. He became the interim coach at the end of last season after coach Lamont Smith was arrested for domestic violence.
When the Toreros struggled against San Francisco last week, down by 11 at halftime, Scholl had an outburst in the locker room that worked.
"I kicked the (locker room) wall," said Scholl.
He also singled out Pineiro after his lackluster half.
"I challenged I.P. to be who he is," said Scholl.
San Diego will need more than Pineiro to beat Gonzaga, which has won 21 consecutive WCC games.
"Our team just has so many weapons offensively," Clarke said. "I feel like it's really, really hard to keep up with us in games if you don't have five players that can match up with us."
--Field Level Media
Updated February 1, 2019