University of San Francisco forward Nate Renfro drives against Gonzaga forward Brandon Clarke on Jan. 12, 2019 at War Memorial Gym at the Sobrato Center. (Chris Victorio / Special to S.F. Examiner)

USF Dons basketball blown out by Gonzaga in Spokane

After a 96-83 loss to Gonzaga — a game that was tied with three minutes left — on Jan. 12 in San Francisco, the University of San Francisco Dons visited the Bulldogs on Thursday for a match-up that had them as 19-point underdogs. 

That spread turned out to be too generous, as San Francisco was routed for the first time all season, falling 92-62 at the McCarthey Athletic Center.

It would be hard to find too many positives for the Dons (17-6, 5-4 WCC) after they led just twice in the early minutes, trailed by 13 at half and could never get the lead down to single digits in the second half. Senior Nate Renfro gave USF leads of 4-3 and 11-10, but No. 4 Gonzaga would never trail after the opening six minutes. When the Dons closed to 21-19 on a bucket by Jimbo Lull, the Bulldogs (22-2, 9-0) quickly rattled off a 7-0 run, capped off by a 3-pointer from Geno Crandall.

Crandall, a graduate transfer from North Dakota, entered the night as a 26-percent 3-point shooter but hit two of his three attempts, part of a 12-point performance off the bench. Gonzaga’s other major transfer, Brandon Clarke (formerly of San Jose State), had 20 points, 16 rebounds and five blocks, leading all players in the aforementioned categories.

The one glimmer of hope the Dons had in the second half came in the form of a 9-3 run to cut the lead to 51-41 on a steal and 3-pointer by Frankie Ferrari, who had 14 points and four steals but was limited to just three assists. Once again, Gonzaga was quick to answer, scoring the next seven points and outscoring the Dons 21-7 over the next seven minutes to turn the game into a blowout.

Gonzaga’s largest lead was 33 points, with USF getting the final basket on a 3-pointer by Trevante Anderson. He scored seven points off the bench, all in the second half, playing for the first time in his home state, albeit on the opposite end of said state from his hometown of Seattle. Charles Minlend Jr. added 14 and Nate Renfro scored 10, but the Dons shot just 38.8 percent from the field and were out-rebounded 46-34.

The Bulldogs got 17 points from Rui Hachimura, 16 from Zach Norvell Jr. and nine from Josh Perkins. They made 22 of 27 free throws, while USF went just 5-of-12 at the line.

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