February 19, 2009 in Sports

Zags clinch another title

Associated Press
 
Christopher Anderson photo

Josh Heytvelt of Gonzaga takes a shot across the face as he goes to the hoop against Loyola Marymount.
(Full-size photo)(All photos)

Steven Gray scored a career-high 23 points and No. 17 Gonzaga pounded Loyola Marymount 91-54 Thursday night to clinch its ninth consecutive West Coast Conference regular season title and earn the top seed in the league tournament.

Josh Heytvelt added 18 points as Gonzaga (20-5, 11-0 WCC) won at least 20 games for a 12th consecutive season. Gray made five of seven 3-pointers, all in his 21-point second half.

Loyola Marymount (2-25, 1-10) came in as the worst shooting team in the nation at 34.8 percent, and made just 31 percent against the nation’s top team in field goal defense (37.1 percent). The Lions were led by Kevin Young and Vernon Teel, with 13 points each.

Gonzaga built a 17-2 lead in the first seven minutes as Loyola Marymount missed nine of its first 10 shots and committed five turnovers.

The Bulldogs led 41-22 at halftime, after holding the Lions to 26 percent shooting and Gray scored 10 consecutive Gonzaga points early in the second half to help build a 56-29 lead.

Micah Downs added 16 points and Austin Daye 13 for Gonzaga, which outrebounded Loyola 44-31 and made 11 of 21 3-pointers.

Gonzaga’s ninth consecutive league title extended the longest active streak in the nation. The Bulldogs tied with the Kentucky teams of 1944-52 for the fourth-longest streak in NCAA history. UCLA holds the record with 13 straight league titles from 1967-79.

Gonzaga is 61-3 in the McCarthey Athletic Center since it opened in 2004.

The Bulldogs are also seeking an undefeated run through the WCC for the third time in six seasons. Their final league games are against Pepperdine (8-14, 5-5), Santa Clara (13-14, 6-5) and San Diego (13-13, 5-6).

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