Norvell helps No. 13 Gonzaga bounce back to beat Santa Clara
By MICHAEL WAGAMAN
SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) Mark Few isn't surprised one bit by how well his Gonzaga Bulldogs have played after losses this season.
It hasn't happened often - just four times in 21 games. But each time, they have followed up with convincing, if not lopsided, wins.
Zach Norvell Jr. scored 14 of his 16 points in the second half, and No. 13 Gonzaga bounced back from its first conference loss of the season to beat Santa Clara 75-60 on Saturday night.
"That sting that they feel after a loss is a legitimate feeling and it serves as a pretty good motivator," Few said. "We talk a lot about that stuff. We talk about what our response is going to be and how it needs to show in a game like this.
"It might not seem like a big thing to somebody on the East Coast or whatever, but this was a good response."
Josh Perkins added 17 points on 6-of-7 shooting, Rui Hachimura scored 16 points and Killian Tillie had 12. Johnathan Williams had nine points and eight boards for Gonzaga (17-4, 7-1 West Coast Conference), including his 400th career rebound.
Two days after a 74-71 home loss to Saint Mary's that ended Gonzaga's six-game winning streak, the Bulldogs had trouble shaking the pesky Broncos (7-13, 4-4) until Norvell found his stroke after halftime.
Norvell made pair of 3s, a short jumper and a layup in the first 7 1/2 minutes of the second half, scored on an offensive rebound as part of a 12-0 run, and then made a fast-break one-handed dunk to put the Bulldogs up 75-41.
That improved Gonzaga to 4-0 after losses this season. In those four games, the Bulldogs have outscored opponents by an average of 20 points.
"I hope it doesn't happen again, but it's a good feeling that we can respond when we hit adversity or when we lose a tough one like we did on Thursday," Perkins said. "We went out there today and we played team basketball."
It was as much a bounce-back game for Perkins as it was the Bulldogs. Gonzaga's second-leading scorer was held to six points in the loss to Saint Mary's but was almost perfect against the Broncos, his lone miss coming from beyond the arc.
"Part of how we played is his response," Few said. "He took care of the ball, stepped up and made shots and played pretty good (defense)."
It was Gonzaga's 17th consecutive win over the Broncos and improved Few's record to 40-4 against Santa Clara.
KJ Feagin scored 21 points for the Broncos.
"For most of the game we played well," Santa Clara coach Herb Sendek said. "(The Bulldogs) don't have any weak links on the floor. There's nobody that you can cheat off of to help on another guy easily."
Unlike the first game between the teams this season, when Gonzaga built 27-point lead by halftime on the way to a win in Spokane, Santa Clara kept it close early despite struggling from beyond the arc.
The Broncos missed eight of their first nine 3-point attempts but were tied with 8 1/2 minutes left in the first half following Josip Vrankic's driving layup that had the crowd at Leavey Center roaring.
Part of the problem for Gonzaga was the Bulldogs' inability to keep Feagin from getting to the basket. He had 12 points in the first 20 minutes, made three layups and tipped in his own miss to help Santa Clara close within seven at halftime.
After Perkins drove in from the base line to put Gonzaga back up following Vrankic's tying shot, Hachimura scored on back-to-back dunks, a one-handed power dunk inside and a more traditional two-handed jam coming down the lane.
SEVEN YEARS AND COUNTING
Gonzaga's win came on the seventh anniversary of Santa Clara's last win in the series. The Broncos beat the Bulldogs 85-71 on Jan. 20, 2011 at the Leavey Center.
Gonzaga: The Bulldogs have not lost back-to-back games this season and looked good after a somewhat slow start. Norvell provided a huge boost, but the Zags also got another big game from Hachimura, who has scored in double figures in nine consecutive games.
Santa Clara: Coming off a win at San Francisco, the Broncos made a splash in the first half at home to keep things interesting. They never had the Bulldogs on their heels, but it was a much better effort than their first meeting.
Gonzaga: At Portland on Thursday.
Santa Clara: At San Diego on Thursday.
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Updated January 20, 2018