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USF hangs tough against No. 15 Gonzaga

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Matt McCarthy attempts a layup on Saturday against Gonzaga in Spokane. (Courtesy Christina Leung/USF Athletics)

While the San Francisco Dons were unable to pull off the potential Upset of the Year on Saturday, they did manage to put up a valiant effort in one of the most hostile environments, ultimately losing 82-73 to the 15th-ranked Gonzaga Bulldogs at the McCarthey Athletic Center.

It looked early on like it would be another blowout loss in Spokane for San Francisco (12-11, 4-6 WCC), as the Dons faced an early 13-point deficit and were looking at the wrong side of a 29-13 score with 8:30 left in the first half, but the visitors closed the half on an 18-3 run to get within three at the break and never went away in the second half.

A 3-pointer by Jordan Ratinho pulled the Dons level at 45 with 14:51 remaining, but Rui Hachimura put the Zags back on top in the ensuing possession. USF would never take the lead.

Souley Boum scored just five points on the night, but his 3-pointer with 12:04 to play cut the deficit to one. From there, Gonzaga (19-4, 9-1) went on the run that would create enough separation to decide the game: An 11-2 surge that was sparked by five of Johnathan Williams’ 16 points, which tied him for the game-high with teammate Killian Tillie.

Two other Gonzaga starters were in double-figures, with Silas Melson scoring 13 and Josh Perkins adding 11. Hachimura scored 14 off the bench for the Bulldogs.

USF got 15 points apiece from Ratinho and Frankie Ferrari, as well as 10 from Matt McCarthy and 13 from Chase Foster, who did not start but played 26 minutes in his second game back from an ankle injury.

Regardless of the outcome, it’s an encouraging performance from the Dons, who will need a similar effort on the road in Thursday’s trip to Saint Mary’s.

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