LAS VEGAS – The patient appears to be half cured.
Gonzaga, stung by a loss to BYU in the regular-season finale, sleepwalked through the 20 minutes against Pacific before looking more like the outfit that won its first 29 games.
Top-seeded Gonzaga pulled away from the ninth-seeded Tigers 82-50 in the WCC tournament quarterfinals Saturday at the Orleans Arena.
Gonzaga (30-1) advances to face No. 4 Santa Clara, a 76-69 winner over San Francisco, at 6 p.m. in Monday’s semifinals.
GU sputtered throughout the first 20 minutes, leading just 27-25. The Zags’ lowest scoring half in WCC play was 29 against Pacific in Stockton.
The Zags opened the second half with a 14-2 run, triggered by a Jordan Mathews’ steal and three-point play and capped by his 3-pointer.
“It wasn’t clicking (in the first half), we couldn’t find open shots,” center Przemek Karnowski said. “They were kind of mixing everything, zone and man. I thought we made some really good adjustments. We found Jordan and Nigel (Williams-Goss).
“Jordan got some open shots and Nigel pushed the ball.”
And the Zags’ defense took care of the rest. Pacific shot just 30.5 percent from the field. The Tigers made just 34 percent in an 82-61 loss last month in Spokane.
“I thought our defense prevailed,” coach Mark Few said. “We played really bad offense in the first half but our defense was solid enough and good enough to get us a little bit of a lead.
“Then we settled them down and came out and played fantastic offense in the second half. We stepped up and made shots, pushed the ball better. The defense remained stellar, and even got a little better there in the end.”
Mathews scored 20 of his season-high 22 points in the second half. Nigel Williams-Goss had 20 points, six rebounds and four assists. Johnathan Williams contributed 11 points. Przemek Karnowski added nine points and nine rebounds.
The first half was a continuation of the Zags’ performance against BYU. GU was plagued by turnovers (9) and couldn’t connect from distance (1 of 8 beyond the 3-point arc).
Gonzaga made its first three shots but was completely out of sync the rest of the half. The Zags went 5:30 without scoring before Zach Collins hit a layup. They missed their next five shots.
Pacific wasn’t faring much better but the Tigers connected on three 3-pointers in a two-minute span to go in front 21-10. The Zags regained the lead on five quick points by Nigel Williams-Goss, but consecutive turnovers stymied their last two possessions.
“We had a lot of turnovers in the first half,” Williams-Goss said. “Just on our end we weren’t executing our plays like we have been all year.”
The Zags made 67.8 percent from the field in the second half and put up 55 points.
After struggling to create distance from Pacific in the first, Gonzaga came back from halftime and immediately went on a 14-2 run that stretched its lead to 41-27.
The run started with a 3-point play by Jordan Mathews and was followed by Johnathan Williams’ couple makes and a layup by Przemek Karnowski. Mathews ended the run with a big 3.
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