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Bulldogs claim WCC title outright

Gonzaga rolled to a 92-58 win over Pepperdine on Saturday, clinching the outright WCC title. Read more below in my unedited game story that will run in Sunday’s S-R.

 


By Jim Meehan

Staff writer

Five minutes into the game, all five Gonzaga starters had scored. Seven minutes in, the Bulldogs’ lead had reached double figures. Seventeen minutes in, Gonzaga was up by 20.

The 17th-ranked Bulldogs took care of Pepperdine early, opening up a 23-point halftime lead and coasting to a 92-58 West Coast Conference men’s basketball victory Saturday in front of 6,000 at the McCarthey Athletic Center.

Gonzaga (21-5, 12-0 WCC) secured an outright WCC title for the eighth time in nine years. The Bulldogs shared the crown in 2002. Gonzaga, which visits Santa Clara and San Diego next week, is two wins from its third unbeaten conference season in six years.

“It was a great weekend,” said head coach Mark Few, whose Bulldogs crushed Loyola Marymount 91-54 on Thursday. “We came out and played the way we needed to play against teams we’re better than, with both our defense and our offense.”

Senior forward Josh Heytvelt overpowered the Waves inside, pouring in 16 of his career-high 28 points in the first half. Junior guard Matt Bouldin also had 16 points in the first half as built a 48-25 lead.

Heytvelt’s previous career high was 27 against Pepperdine two years ago. He had 25 points in Gonzaga’s 83-69 win over the Waves in Malibu a month ago.

“I don’t know if they don’t focus on me as much as other teams, but it just seems to be right every time we play them,” Heytvelt said.

Pepperdine coach Tom Asbury had a simple explanation.

“We don’t have anybody that can match up to him,” Asbury said.

The Waves had field-goal droughts of 5 minutes, 5:15 and 3:40 as Gonzaga stretched out its lead. Pepperdine committed 12 turnovers and shot just 27.6 percent (8 of 29) in the first half.

Gonzaga made its first six shots – three by Heytvelt – in the second half. Two more field goals by Heytvelt and Jeremy Pargo’s steal and dunk hiked Gonzaga’s lead to 66-34.

Sophomore forward Austin Daye sprained his ankle early in the second half, but he returned about five minutes later. Seconds after checking back in, Daye forced a turnover on a Pepperdine inbounds pass. Reserve forward Ira Brown also was slowed by an ankle injury.

“I think I slipped on a spot on the floor; I rolled it really quick and hard,” said Daye, who finished with six points, five rebounds and four assists. “It was still hurting, but I tried to run as normal as possible so coach wouldn’t take me out.”

Heytvelt established his new career high with a layup on a feed from Daye with 8 minutes remaining, giving GU a 33-point advantage. Heytvelt’s three highest scoring games have been against Pepperdine.

Gonzaga had a 58-24 edge in points in the paint. The Bulldogs committed just two turnovers in the first half and eight for the game. Gonzaga shot 62.5 percent in the second half and nearly 57 percent overall.

Pargo moved into third place on GU’s career assists list with 557. He was tied with John Stockton at 554 entering the game. The Bulldogs finished with 20 assists, their most since posting 22 against the Waves on Jan. 22.

“We knew they were going to zone us a lot, so it was really just taking care of the ball and getting it into places where we could do things,” said Bouldin, who had four assists and no turnovers. “We made a lot of good plays in transition. We had a lot fewer turnovers there.”

The Waves (8-20, 5-7) were led by Keion Bell’s 17 points.

“We didn’t play this weekend at all,” said Asbury, whose team was thumped by Portland 74-45 on Thursday. “They’re good and much better than we are, but we didn’t play in either game.”

 

 

 


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