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Santa Clara's defense fights Gonzaga's Roberts Sacre and Gary Bell Jr. for the ball in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game on Saturday, Jan. 7, 2012, in Spokane, Wash. (AP Photo/Jed Conklin)

SPOKANE, Wash. -- If there was anything that resembled a coup for Santa Clara on Saturday night, it was that Gonzaga was devoid its usually raucous student body.

Santa Clara was able to throw a muzzle on the McCarthey Athletic Center crowd in jumping out to a 10-point cushion, but scoring lapses haunted the Broncos in an 82-60 West Coast Conference loss to the 25th-ranked Bulldogs.

"Our guys understood that without the students here (because of winter break) they could make a bit of a dent," SCU coach Kerry Keating said. "We had a pretty good start to the game, but then we had a stretch where we didn't convert offensively.

"If you don't do that in a place like this, things can get away from you."

Santa Clara (8-7, 0-2 WCC) was the aggressor at the start, using a 1-2-2 zone to contend with Gonzaga's length. The Broncos got their stops and ample looks on the other end, and the result was a swift 10-0 lead.

"They were switching out on everything. We just had to adjust," Gonzaga guard Gary Bell Jr. said. "We did that in the second half. Luckily it wasn't too late.

Raymond Cowels III scored eight of his club's first 10 points in first three minutes and finished with a team-high 13.

Gonzaga methodically chipped away at the deficit and came up with the stops it needed to overtake the Broncos.

"(Gonzaga) plays tough, solid defense all the time, and it's tough to get good shots against them," Cowles III said. "When we were (making shots) we were fine, but sometimes we're not always going to have the best of luck."


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Gonzaga (13-2, 3-0) trailed nearly the entire half until sophomore post Sam Dower, who led four Zags in double figures with 17 points, connected on a 3-pointer to give the Bulldogs a 28-26 halftime lead.

Junior Kevin Foster hit three free throws to give Santa Clara a 31-30 lead early in the second half. Gonzaga took over from there.

Back-to-back 3s from freshman guards Kevin Pangos and Bell Jr. sparked an 18-0 run, and the Bulldogs never looked back. Gonzaga shot 69 percent in the second half.

Foster and guard Evan Roquemore -- Santa Clara's two leading scorers -- combined for just 18 points on 6-of-27 shooting.