The injury-marred Gonzaga career of guard Gary Bell Jr. took another sour turn Monday with the discovery that Bell broke a bone in his right hand in the West Coast Conference basketball opener and will be out 4-6 weeks.
The No. 24 Zags didn’t seem to miss Bell in Monday night’s game against San Francisco, a 69-41 rout at McCarthey Athletic Center.
Bell suffered the injury against Santa Clara. He left but returned to the game. The hand swelled, and an exam by a hand specialist Monday confirmed a break.
It’s the latest blow for Bell, the junior from Kentridge High, who is Gonzaga’s third-leading scorer, shooting .476 from three-point range and considered the team’s best defender.
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A year ago, he played through what he called a crack in his left-knee cartilage, and then was felled by a stress fracture of the right ankle that caused him to miss the second half of top-ranked Gonzaga’s third-round NCAA loss to Wichita State.
He spent much of the spring and summer rehabilitating both injuries.
Drew Barham scored 15 points, all on three-pointers, against San Francisco.
Przemek Karnowski scored 11 points for Gonzaga (12-2, 2-0 West Coast), whose top three scorers are battling injuries. David Stockton and Kevin Pangos finished with 10 points each.
“It was a full team effort,” said Pangos, who is battling turf toe and was held eight points below his scoring average. “Everyone stepped up and played a big role. Everyone contributed.”
Avry Holmes led cold-shooting San Francisco (8-6, 1-1) with 16 points. The Dons made just 26 percent of their shots, to 43 percent for the Zags.
Gonzaga has won 20 straight conference games spanning three seasons.
Gonzaga has lately been riddled by injuries. Forward Sam Dower has missed the last two games with a sore back and Pangos has been playing with the painful turf-toe injury.
Bell’s absence means Gonzaga will rely more heavily on swingmen Kyle Dranginis and Providence transfer Gerard Coleman.
Coleman came off the bench to score 10 points.
“We knew everybody had their back,” said Barham, who made 5 of 10 from three-point range and added nine rebounds. “Everybody coming off the bench was going to give their best effort and what happened we could live with.”
Louisville transfer Angel Nunez, playing in just his second game since becoming eligible, had six points, five rebounds and a blocked shot in 14 minutes.
“He’s going to be a real threat,” Pangos said.
San Francisco coach Rex Walters said the fact that Dower and Bell were not playing did not impact his preparations.
“I didn’t care about that too much,” Walters said. “It was Gonzaga versus USF and you have to play the game.”
The Dons have dropped 25 consecutive games against Gonzaga in Spokane, dating to 1989.
Gonzaga is 127-8 in the McCarthey Athletic Center since it opened a decade ago.
Bud Withers: 206-464-8281 or email@example.com
The Associated Press contributed to this report.