The Bulldogs beat Pepperdine 91-84 Thursday in a game that turned into a second-half shootout. The Waves, behind Keion Bell's 34-point half, outscored GU 55-50 in the final 20 minutes, but the Bulldogs built up a big enough lead in the first half to hold off Pepperdine.
GU is 4-0 and alone in first place in the WCC. Saint Mary's is 4-1 and Pepperdine dropped to 3-1. LMU, 1-3 in conference, visits Gonzaga on Saturday.
Read on for my unedited game story and check back tomorrow for a day-after post.
It’s a trend Gonzaga would like to put a stop to in a hurry.
The 15th-ranked Bulldogs outlasted Pepperdine 91-84 in front of 6,000 Thursday at the
Senior guard Matt Bouldin scored a career-high 32 points and Elias Harris and Steven Gray each added 20 points as the Bulldogs (15-3, 4-0) won despite yielding 55 second-half points, 34 of those coming from sophomore guard Keion Bell.
“We have a lot of guys that can score baskets,” Gonzaga coach Mark Few said, “but now we need to figure out some guys that can dig in and get a stop.”
The game was somewhat similar to Gonzaga’s 89-82 win over Saint Mary’s last week when it weathered Omar Samhan’s 25-point second half, which fueled the Gaels’ 49-point second half; and GU’s 81-78 victory over
“We’ve been trying to figure it out, doing different things in practice and really trying to emphasize playing 40 minutes of defense,” Gray said. “We’ve had a few games where we go to sleep or get content with our offense. We’re going to go back to work on defense (Friday).”
The Bulldogs led by double figures 6:30 into the first half and by as many as 15 before taking a 41-29 edge at intermission. The 6-foot-3
“My teammates challenged me at halftime to come out and play as hard as I could in the second half,”
Pepperdine (7-13, 3-1) narrowed the deficit to seven on
Pepperdine trailed by seven after a pair of Bell free throws with 4:50 left and was within six on Lorne Jackson’s 3-pointer with 1:12 remaining. Gonzaga made 8 of 10 free throws in the final 55.3 seconds to seal the win.
“Our problem was our defense, it was a big disaster,” said Harris, who hit several tough shots en route to his third straight game with at least 20 points. “We just survived and won. It’s like coach Few said: If we keep playing that way we’re not going to win the WCC. We need to change immediately.”
“We weren’t helping like we have all season. We usually have a lot more help on the back side, but even on the ball we didn’t guard him as well as we have,” Bouldin said. “He had a different kind of offensive package than we’ve seen. We’ve played some great guys (
The Bulldogs, who entertain Loyola Marymount on Saturday, made 53.2 percent of their shots, but again struggled at the free-throw line (66.7 percent).