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Third time facing Gonzaga is no charm for USF

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Nate Renfro dunks against Gonzaga on Monday. (Courtesy Kyle Terada/WCC)

Having played two tight meetings in the regular season, the Gonzaga Bulldogs certainly didn’t take the San Francisco Dons lightly. It led to a 88-60 flattening in the semifinals of the West Coast Conference Tournament.

Other than the opening basket of the game, a jumper by Jordan Ratinho, San Francisco (18-15) never held an advantage, facing deficits of as much as 25 in the first half and 33 in the final minutes as Gonzaga (29-4) dominated, a stark contrast from two closely-contested meetings in January.

The Dons had no answer for Killian Tillie as the Frenchman scored 26 points on 10-for-11 shooting. As he did in the regular season, Rui Hachimura was a difference-maker for Gonzaga, scoring 17 off the bench. In all, the victorious Bulldogs shot 53.3 percent from the field and connected on 12 3-pointers to USF’s five.

While the Zags had four scorers in double-figures, San Francisco had just one, junior co-captain Nate Renfro. The Tucson native shot 6-of-7 en route to his 15-point night.

Zach Norvell Jr. (14 points) and Johnathan Williams (10) rounded out the leading scorers for Gonzaga.

While the loss will ensure that USF will not make the NCAA Tournament, the Dons continued to progress in Kyle Smith’s second season and could find themselves in the NIT or another postseason tournament. Last year, they lost to Rice in the first round of the CBI.

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