Kelly Olynyk had 26 points and nine rebounds and Elias Harris had 17 points and 13 boards to lead No. 5 Gonzaga to a 71-61 victory at San Francisco.
SAN FRANCISCO — Mark Few felt uneasy until the final buzzer sounded.
After three years of last-second shots and steals that always seemed to go San Francisco’s way, the Gonzaga coach had seen too many leads at War Memorial Gymnasium evaporate. It almost happened again, too.
Kelly Olynyk contributed 26 points and nine rebounds, and Elias Harris added 17 points and 13 rebounds to carry No. 5 Gonzaga past pesky San Francisco 71-61 Saturday, snapping a three-game Zags losing streak on The Hilltop.
“We’ve had some crazy things happen to us in here,” Few said. “They banked a shot from the baseline. We saved a ball up three, game over on a rebound and then threw it right to their guy so they could make a three. It’s been about three or four other things. All that being said, it comes down to them playing with fantastic effort to put themselves in position to win and make big shots.”
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Gonzaga weathered another strong — but brief — shooting display while its fierce frontcourt tandem bullied and bruised its way to a fast start and a furious finish. Olynyk finished 13 for 17 from the field, Harris made 7 of 15 shots and both highlighted an 11-0 run in the final minutes that put the Zags (25-2 overall, 12-0 West Coast Conference) ahead for good.
“There might be a little magic in this building or something,” Olynyk said. “We needed that to keep our run going. It’s huge. We haven’t won here the last three years. Since I’ve been here, we’d never won here. It’s a big-time win here. We’ve got to keep that going and finish off this conference.”
Cole Dickerson, a junior from Federal Way, had team-high totals of 15 points and five rebounds for the Dons (11-15, 4-9).
Unlike the last three seasons when San Francisco stunned Gonzaga at home, the Zags’ big men overwhelmed the smaller Dons when it mattered most.
“It was, unfortunately, men playing against boys,” San Francisco coach Rex Walters said of the stretch run.
Gonzaga was the highest-ranked team to visit The Hilltop in 44 years. The Dons haven’t defeated a top-five team since March 23, 1956, when they downed fifth-ranked Iowa 83-71 to claim their second consecutive national title behind Bill Russell.
The Dons defeated Gonzaga each of the past three seasons in San Francisco, including twice in overtime before winning 66-65 last season on Rashad Green’s floater in the lane with 3.3 seconds remaining.
“We definitely didn’t want this one coming down to the end again,” Harris said.
Meanwhile, Gonzaga has won 24 straight over USF in Spokane, including a 66-52 victory Jan. 28.
The Zags were ready at the start Saturday, powering past the Dons with three quick dunks. That didn’t even include perhaps the prettiest play: Mike Hart lofting a half-court alley-oop that Olynyk laid up off the glass over a defender.
Gonzaga started with a 19-4 run but Dickerson’s three-point basket tied the score at 45 with 10:36 left.