Mark Few is admittedly road weary, and that is truly saying something for a Gonzaga coach who for years has played a daunting schedule taking...
SANTA CLARA, Calif. — Mark Few is admittedly road weary, and that is truly saying something for a Gonzaga coach who for years has played a daunting schedule taking his team all over the country.
The Zags are now headed home on a nice roll just in time for their first showdown of the season with Saint Mary’s coming up Thursday.
Kelly Olynyk made a key putback with 1:55 remaining on the way to a career-high 33 points, and No. 10 Gonzaga held off a late rally to beat Santa Clara 81-74 on Saturday night for its sixth consecutive victory.
“It was a great road trip. Probably the best I’ve ever been on in 25 years,” said Few, whose team departed Dec. 30 with its first stop a 69-68 win at then-No. 22 Oklahoma State on New Year’s Eve before a 78-62 win at Pepperdine on Thursday. “It started in Stillwater in front of 13,500 and into here tonight. That was an inspired, spirited, really much-improved Santa Clara team. We withstood all their shots and got it done. … We’re in the most difficult stretch I’ve ever been a part of.”
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Elias Harris scored 14 points for the Zags (15-1, 2-0 WCC), determined to win another West Coast Conference crown after Saint Mary’s snapped the school’s run of 11 straight won or shared conference titles.
Olynyk, who also had 10 rebounds, scored eight straight points late as the Zags shot 55.3 percent from the floor and beat the Broncos for the 26th time in the past 28 matchups.
“I knew in this game, especially, that I was feeling good about myself, my confidence was really high and I knew I was going to make plays if my team needed me to,” said Olynyk, who averaged 23.3 points over the three-game trip.
Kevin Foster scored 29 points and reached the 2,000 mark for his career and Marc Trasolini had 19 points and nine rebounds for Santa Clara (12-4, 1-1), which is off to the program’s best start since 1997-98.
After Trasolini’s dunk with 16:23 remaining pulled Santa Clara to 46-44, Olynyk scored four straight points and six of the Zags’ next eight as his team began to pull away before one last-ditch Santa Clara rally.