SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) Undefeated Gonzaga struggled in the first half against San Francisco, and looked nothing like the nation’s top-ranked basketball team.
But Nigel Williams-Goss helped the Zags dominate the second half and coast to a 96-61 victory Thursday night.
Williams-Goss scored 30 points as Gonzaga extended the nation’s longest winning streak to 27 games.
“We’re not going to beat every single team by 20 points in the first half,” said Przemek Karnowski, who added 23 points and seven rebounds for Gonzaga (27-0, 15-0 West Coast). “We’ve got to play our defense like we’re supposed to.”
Gonzaga, which is seeking to become the first team since Kentucky in 2015 to go undefeated in the regular season, let San Francisco shoot 50 percent and take the lead midway through the first half.
But they held the Dons to 23.5 percent shooting in the second half, and outscored them 54-26 for the win.
“I like how we adjusted,” Karnowski said. “We altered a lot of shots.”
Chase Foster had 15 points and Matt McCarthy added 11 for San Francisco (18-10, 8-7). The Dons have dropped 11 straight to Gonzaga and 28 in a row in Spokane dating to 1989.
Williams-Goss, a junior guard, added six rebounds and seven assists as he torched the Dons for at least 30 points for the second time this season. He was 10 of 14 from the field.
“He’s a really, really focused individual,” Gonzaga coach Mark Few said of Williams-Goss. “He doesn’t leave anything to chance.”
San Francisco coach Kyle Smith liked his team’s effort in the first 16 minutes.
“We competed well,” Smith said. “We gave ourselves a chance.
“We had a couple quick possessions, a couple of bad shots that led to a quick transition for them,” Smith said. “You can’t let your guard down at all.”
San Francisco shot well to lead for a good portion of the first half, until a late surge gave Gonzaga a 42-35 lead at halftime.
Williams-Goss scored 11 points as Gonzaga put together a 15-2 run that bracketed halftime to build a 52-37 lead early in the second.
Williams-Goss continued to score virtually at will, adding eight more points as Gonzaga built a 62-43 lead.
The Dons made only five of their first 20 shots in the second half.
“We guarded the ball better,” Few said. “We guarded the rim. We quit giving up 3s.”
Gonzaga, which has trailed only 6 percent of the time in games this season, fell behind 16-11 midway through the first half. The Zags clawed back and tied the game at 22-22 on Zach Collins’ basket. Williams-Goss followed with a 3-pointer to put Gonzaga ahead for good.
San Francisco: The Dons gave Gonzaga one of its toughest league tests, losing 95-80 earlier this season. It was the most points scored this season against the Zags. The Dons are off to their best start since the 1999-2000 season.
Gonzaga: The Zags limit opponents to 37 percent shooting, second in the nation. Gonzaga has won at least 25 games in 13 of the past 14 seasons. Their 20 straight conference wins dating to last year are the longest streak in the nation.
Gonzaga made 19 of 35 shots in the decisive second half, while holding the Dons to 8-of-34 shooting in the half. Gonzaga won the rebound battle 44-32 and converted 15 San Francisco turnovers into 30 points.
Gonzaga post Killian Tillie missed the game with a broken finger, and guard Bryan Alberts sat out with an ankle injury
San Francisco plays at Portland on Saturday.
Gonzaga hosts Pacific on Saturday, and then will have two remaining regular season games left against San Diego and BYU as they seek an undefeated season.