SAN FRANCISCO (AP) Nigel Williams-Goss spent Sunday and Monday in bed and only regained his strength from an awful stomach bug a couple of days ago.
Nobody would have ever known it the way he shot during a career scoring night.
Williams-Goss scored 36 points as No. 5 Gonzaga used its accurate shooting all over the court to beat San Francisco 95-80 on Thursday.
“He had the flu really, really bad, as bad probably as we’ve had that I can remember,” coach Mark Few said. “He even had to take Monday off because he was so dehydrated. He came to practice Tuesday-Wednesday and obviously he was phenomenal tonight. Phenomenal in a lot of ways. … Really super efficient.”
Williams-Goss shot 12 for 15 as Gonzaga shot 61 percent, made all nine of his free throws and also had 11 rebounds and six assists for the perennial West Coast Conference favorites in their eighth straight win against USF and fifth in a row on the Dons’ home court.
Jordan Mathews scored 16 points for the unbeaten Zags (15-0, 3-0), returning to the city where he grew up to face a program his father once coached.
Williams-Goss finally found the kind of shooting stroke he had been waiting for after falling off in the West Coast Conference opener against Pepperdine, then he struggled through at Pacific on Saturday after throwing up all day.
“The last game being sick, for myself I wanted to kind of pick it up a little bit,” Williams-Goss said, “and just come out with a full focus and energy.”
Jordan Ratinho scored 20 points as an inexperienced USF team (11-5, 1-2) hung tough against the more athletic, physical Zags.
A sold-out crowd of 3,814 at Memorial Gym turned out for what is always an anticipated visit by Gonzaga whenever the Bulldogs travel.
Golden State Warriors general manager Bob Myers sat courtside with one of his daughters alongside San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee a few seats away from Bill Cartwright, back working at his alma mater.
First-year coach Kyle Smith, back in the WCC by way of a successful six-year stint at Columbia, has brought a basketball energy back to the Hilltop and its storied hoops tradition dating to the days of Bill Russell and K.C. Jones playing for Pete Newell.
“You feel it every day, every day when you’re a part of this program trying to live up to that legacy,” Smith said.
USF had pulled within 55-45 on Ronnie Boyce’s steal and layup and quickly forced another. But Smith was hit with a technical foul with 14:25 left to play for arguing a travel call on Ratinho after he made a steal. Williams-Goss converted both free throws.
“He didn’t feel us at all,” Smith said of trying to defend Williams-Goss. “He was really comfortable out there. We didn’t take anything away from him.”
Mathews, a transfer from nearby California in Berkeley, made three 3-pointers. His father Phil was the Dons’ head coach for nine seasons from 1995-2004. In 1997-98, he coached USF to its first NCAA Tournament berth in 16 seasons and the program hasn’t been back since.
Mathews’ layin at the 14-minute mark of the first half capped a 6-0 run, and the Bulldogs took off from there.
San Francisco shot just 24.1 percent (7 for 29) from 3-point range and couldn’t withstand a 26-8 Gonzaga run in the first half during which it shot 62.1 percent.
Przemek Karnowski, a 7-foot-1, 300-pound load in the middle, and Zach Collins made things tough for the Dons to defend in the paint.
“They don’t change a whole lot,” Smith said of the powerful Zags. “The names change.”
Gonzaga: Josh Perkins had his streak snapped after hitting a 3 in 15 straight games but he had six assists. … Ryan Edwards returned for the Zags after he was sick the past two games. … The Zags are 33-4 against USF under Few.
San Francisco: USF was outrebounded 39-23. … The Dons dropped to 6-2 at home. … After allowing Santa Clara to go 13 for 26 from 3-point range in a 72-58 loss Saturday, Gonzaga was 6 of 20 from deep.
Gonzaga: At Portland on Saturday.
San Francisco: Hosts Saint Mary’s on Saturday, when Smith will face close friend and 16th-year Gaels coach Randy Bennett. Smith coached under Bennett in Moraga before a six-year stint at Columbia.