LAS VEGAS – Zach Norvell Jr. scored 18 points to lead a balanced offensive attack as top-seeded Gonzaga routed eighth-seeded Pepperdine 100-74 in the WCC semifinals on Saturday at the Orleans Arena.
All five Gonzaga starters finished in double figures, while Killian Tillie returned after missing the last six weeks with a foot injury. Tillie finished with nine points and six rebounds.
The other Bulldogs (30-2) in double figures included Rui Hachimura (16 points), Brandon Clarke (15), Josh Perkins (11), Corey Kispert (11) and reserve forward Filip Petrusev (10)
Pepperdine (16-18) was paced by Colbey Ross with 20 points, while Eric Cooper Jr. added 16 points.
Gonzaga shot 59.7 percent from the floor and 47.8 percent from deep, while Pepperdine shot 44.6 percent overall and 37.5 percent from 3-point range.
The Zags outrebounded the Waves 37-28 and forced 16 turnovers. GU also dominated in the paint on the offensive end, outscoring PU 52-26.
The No. 1 ranked Bulldogs await the winner of tonight’s other semifinal between second-seeded Saint Mary’s and seventh-seeded San Diego. The winner will face GU in Tuesday’s WCC title game at 6 p.m. (ESPN). With a win, the Bulldogs will secure a spot in the NCAA Tournament, and likely wrap up one of the Big Dance’s four No. 1 seeds.
Final – Gonzaga 100, Pepperdine 74: Great performance by the Zags, who are now one win away from another WCC title and likely locking up a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.
GU back at it tomorrow against either Saint Mary’s or San Diego. That game will be at 6 p.m. and televised on ESPN.
2:23 – Gonzaga 92, Pepperdine 62: Jeremy Jones gets in on the action from deep as the senior forward drains the straightaway triple.
Zach Norvell Jr. likely to finish this one as Gonzaga’s leading scorer with 18 points, but the Bulldogs’scoring balance has been on full display tonight.
Hard to see any WCC team topping the Zags, but both Saint Mary’s and San Diego have tested the Bulldogs this season. As the No. 2 seed, SMC has yet to play a game in the tournament, while San Diego will be playing its fourth game of the week tonight.
Pepperdine all of a sudden catches fire from deep as Eric Cooper Jr. hits back-to-back 3-pointers to get to 13 points.
7:30 – Gonzaga 84, Pepperdine 46: Passing clinic tonight for Gonzaga. Actually, just an overall offensive clinic.
Zags up to 23 assists on 31 makes and shooting 63 percent from the floor.
Brandon Clarke with a nice stretch of play. He dishes out a nice bounce pass for a Rui Hachimura slam and follows that with a strong take to the bucket to earn a pair of free throws. He also grabbed an offensive board to set up his trip to the line.
Pepperdine starting to hit a few shots, but it’s far too little and far too late for the eighth-seeded Waves. Colbery Ross with 13 points to pace Pepperdine, while Jade’ Smith had added 10.
Mark Few going deeper into his bench now as Geno Crandall, Jeremy Jones and Filip Petrusev get some playing time. Petrusev quickly up to four points, while Crandall has dished out five assists.
11:40 – Gonzaga 74, Pepperdine 38: No matter what combo the Zags put out on the floor, it’s just not a fair fight tonight against the sub-.500 Waves.
Zach Norvell Jr. hits his second 3-pointer of the night to get to 18 points, while Josh Perkins follows with his own trey to get to 11.
Very impressive stat line from Killian Tillie with nine points and six rebounds.
Teams go into the under-12 break on a nifty finish in transition by Brandon Clarke while getting fouled. He’s at 11 points as all five starters have reached double figures for the Zags.
16:29 – Gonzaga 60, Pepperdine 31: Bulldogs come out of the break just as hot as they went into it. GU opens on a 13-3 run, forcing Pepperdine coach Lorenzo Romar into a timeout.
Four GU players now into double figures as Rui Hachimura leads the way with 12 points, followed by Brandon Clarke, Zach Norvell Jr. and Corey Kispert – each with 11.
Zags also sharing the ball very well, with more assists than the Waves have rebounds (14 to 13).
With the lead nearing the 30-point mark, keeping players off the injury list becomes priority number one over the next 16-plus minutes.
Halftime – Gonzaga 47, Pepperdine 26: Great 20 minutes by the Bulldogs, who took it right at the upset-minded Waves.
Rui Hachimura leads the way for GU with 12 points, while Killian Tillie and Zach Norvell Jr. have nine points apiece.
Colbey Ross pacing Pepperdine with 11 points.
Zags shoot 58.6 percent from the floor and 60 percent from deep, while holding the Waves to 42.9 percent overall and 14.3 percent from 3-point range.
Zags outrebounding Pepperdine 18-11, while Pepperdine has 12 turnovers to GU’s nine.
Bulldogs should coast into the WCC title game against the winner of tonight’s Saint Mary’s/San Diego contest.
3:29 – Gonzaga 40, Pepperdine 20: The sluggish start for Gonzaga sure didn’t last long as this one is already looking like a rout.
Combo of GU being the better team and Pepperdine likely being exhausted, but the Zags can do no wrong at the moment.
Game best described with a nice series of a Rui Hachimura two-handed block leading to a Josh Perkins layup that forced a Pepperdine timeout.
Balanced scoring so far for the Zags as Killian Tillie and Hachimura have nine points apiece, Brandon Clarke has seven and Perkins has six.
Bulldogs shooting 56 percent from the floor, while holding Pepperdine to 42.9 percent.
GU has also forced 12 Pepperdine turnovers.
6:59 – Gonzaga 29, Pepperdine 15: Bulldogs really put the pressure on out of the media timeout as Josh Perkins hits a trio of free throws, followed by a Brandon Clarke layup.
Jeremy Jones sees his first action of the night as Killian Tillie heads to the bench. Mark Few likely limiting his big man’s minutes tonight.
After a quiet start for Rui Hachimura, the junior forward shows his range by drilling a wide-open 3-pointer. He has seven points.
Zags run reaches 13-0 before Pepperdine’s Jade’ Smith connects from 15 feet.
10:40 – Gonzaga 19, Pepperdine 13: Happy sight for Gonzaga fans as junior forward Killian Tillie takes to the floor for the first time in two months.
The big man was the WCC Tournament MVP last season.
Zags finally get one to drop from deep as Zach Norvell Jr. connects from way outside.
Tillie follows up with a pair of triples for his first points back from injury. He leads GU with six points and two rebounds.
Pepperdine breaks Gonzaga’s run with a 5-0 run of its own as Colbey Ross is up to six points.
15:17 – Gonzaga 8, Pepperdine 8: Not the start either team wanted from deep as the Zags and Waves are a combined 0 fpr 4 from 3-point range.
GU defense locked in early against Pepperdine as Brandon Clarke gets his first rejection of the game.
On the other end of the court, the Gonzaga offense looks like a team that has been off for more than a week. Zags already with three turnovers.
Waves on their fourth game in five days after defeating Pacific, Loyola Marymount and San Francisco to reach the semis.
Brandon Clarke leading Gonzaga with four points.
Gonzaga announces starting 5
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