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Gonzaga set to face Pacific in WCC tournament quarterfinals

Gonzaga forward Johnathan Williams (3) blocks a shot by Pacific guard Keshon Montague (10) during the first half of an NCAA basketball game, Sat., Feb. 18, 2017, in the McCarthey Athletic Center. (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)
Gonzaga forward Johnathan Williams (3) blocks a shot by Pacific guard Keshon Montague (10) during the first half of an NCAA basketball game, Sat., Feb. 18, 2017, in the McCarthey Athletic Center. (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)

LAS VEGAS – Gonzaga will open the WCC tournament against No. 9-seeded Pacific, which advanced with an 89-84 victory Friday over No. 8 Pepperdine on Friday at Orleans Arena.

The quarterfinal matchup tips at 7 p.m. Saturday.

Gonzaga coach Mark Few knows what to expect, including some bruises, after two regular-season meetings with Pacific.

“Just really physical,” Few said. “They’re going to beat the living daylights out of you, the way they rebound and play post defense, the way their guards come at you downhill.

“The physicality they bring is something that needs to be prepared for.”

The top-seeded Zags (29-1) swept the season series, but Pacific (11-21) was one of just three teams in the regular season to hold a second-half lead against Gonzaga.

That came in Stockton on New Year’s Eve when the Zags erased a 42-34 deficit with a 25-3 run. Forward Johnathan Williams scored all 14 of his points in the final 8 minutes. Center Przemek Karnowski made the Tigers pay for double-teams with a career-high seven assists.

Gonzaga won the second meeting 82-61. The Tigers shot just 34 percent from the field.

Junior guard Ray Bowles scored a career-high 26 points and forward Anthony Townes added 19 to help Pacific win its first WCC tournament game since joining the conference in 2014. Pepperdine’s Lamond Murray Jr. poured in 41 points, the second highest in WCC tournament history.

The Tigers shot 53.3 percent and handed out 22 assists.

“I tell these guys all the time, (Saturday) is going to be fun game, win, lose or draw,” Pacific coach Damon Stoudamire said. “We don’t have nothing to lose anyway. Everybody is coming to see them. If we can just hang around, then anything can happen.”


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