Killian Tillie recorded 19 points and 10 rebounds to help second-ranked Gonzaga escape with an 81-77 victory over San Francisco in the West Coast Conference semifinals on Monday night in Las Vegas.
Ryan Woolridge scored 16 points as the top-seeded Bulldogs (30-2) advanced to the WCC title game for the 23rd straight season. Joel Ayayi added 14 points and nine rebounds, and Filip Petrusev had 14 points and seven rebounds.
Gonzaga will play the winner of Monday night's later semifinal between second-seeded BYU and third-seeded Saint Mary's.
Charles Minlend scored 19 points and Khalil Shabazz added 17 for the fifth-seeded Dons (22-12), who had a five-game winning streak halted. Jimbo Lull had 13 points, and Remu Raitanen contributed 11 points and eight rebounds for San Francisco, which shot 46.9 percent from the field and 6 of 26 from 3-point range.
The Bulldogs shot 50 percent from the field but were just 3-of-12 from behind the arc.
San Francisco had a chance to knot the score, but Shabazz's 3-pointer with 18 seconds left but bounced off the rim.
Tillie later made two free throws with 5.9 seconds left to make it a four-point game as the Bulldogs closed it out.
Ayayi scored two straight baskets to give the Bulldogs a 73-69 lead with 3:33 remaining.
Lull missed a layup and fouled out while competing for the rebound with 2:20 left. Tillie split the two free throws to make it a five-point margin.
Minlend scored with 2:08 left to move the Dons within 74-71. Ayayi hit two free throws 15 seconds later to push the lead to five and later drove through the defense to make it 78-72 with 1:15 remaining.
Shabazz connected on a 3-pointer to move the Dons within 78-75 with 1:05 left. But his tying attempt was off the mark, and a valiant upset bid ended with San Francisco's 19th straight loss against Gonzaga.
San Francisco trailed by five at halftime but recovered to tie the score at 47 on a layup by Shabazz with 13:46 remaining.
The Dons took their first lead of the contest when Minlend converted a three-point play for a 54-53 lead with 11:43 remaining.
Woolridge scored 14 points on 6-of-8 shooting as Gonzaga led 40-35 at the break.
Woolridge's 3-pointer gave the Bulldogs a 21-9 advantage with 13:12 remaining in the first half before the Dons erupted with a 16-4 surge, tying the score at 25 on Raitanen's 3-pointer with 6:29 left.
--Field Level Media