March 11, 2014; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Gonzaga Bulldogs celebrates against the Brigham Young Cougars during the first half in the championship game of the West Coast Conference tournament at Orleans Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Gonzaga Fends off BYU in WCC Championship Game


 

Although BYU mounted a comeback during the latter end of the second half, Gonzaga was able to stave it off and cruise to a 75 to 64 victory. The Bulldogs win in the WCC tournament final earned them the 2014 WCC tournament championship trophy and an automatic berth into the NCAA tournament.

The start of the game was all Zags as they fired off a 20-8 run to start the game. At the 1:21 mark in the first half, Gonzaga was up by 21 points.

However, in the second half, BYU regained its composure and gave Gonzaga a run for its money. The Zags lead kept on dwindling and dwindling until BYU only trailed by eight points with 2:56 left. Unfortunately for BYU, they could not make up any more ground and the Bulldogs were able to run out the clock and win a WCC tournament championship.

Senior forward Sam Dower came up big tonight for Gonzaga, scoring 20 points and snagging 13 rebounds to record a double-double. Dower also shot 10-16 from the field, an efficient clip for an ultimately efficient night from Gonzaga tonight.

While David Stockton did not shoot well in this game (1-5 from the field), he was second on the team in rebounding tonight with five and led the team in assists with seven.

Gary Bell and Kevin Pangos finished in double digits tonight with 14 and 11 points apiece.

Tyler Haws led all scorers tonight with 24 points. Kyle Collinsworth chipped in 13 points as well, but all of that came before he left the game after a seemingly season-ending knee-injury – reminiscent to the same injury Collinsworth suffered against Saint Mary’s earlier this season.

Eric Mika led the Cougars with 10 rebounds. Matt Carlino’s two assists were a team-high.

 

Keys to the Game Checklist

Gonzaga

(Check) Early Start

The Bulldogs led 44-27 at halftime and went on a 20-8 run to start the game. The Zags were very successful at this tonight.

 

BYU

Use Big Guards to Drive to the Bucket

This is something that BYU did a lot of tonight, especially in the second half when the Cougars were mounting their comeback. Haws and Collinsworth combined to shoot 16 free throws tonight.

 

Impact Players

Gonzaga

Kyle Dranginis – Impact: Moderate

Dranginis scored 7 points on three of six shooting, as well as grabbing two rebounds and dishing out one assist. His defense was solid tonight as well.

 

BYU

Matt Carlino – Impact: Very Little

Carlino could not give BYU the extra oomph that they needed while the Cougars were attempting to catch Gonzaga late in the game. The junior back-up point guard scored eight points on only three of 12 shooting, which includes an abysmal 0-5 output from 3-point range. He also fouled out.

 

Player of the Game

Sam Dower

20 points, 13 rebounds, one assist, one block in 34 minutes of action.

 

Moving Forward

The next step for the victorious Bulldogs will be the NCAA tournament, as the Zags nabbed the WCC automatic berth with the win. Gonzaga will likely be a middle seed in the NCAA tournament, with an eight, nine or ten seed being the most realistic possibility for the Zags.

BYU now must sweat it out until selection Sunday to see if they will be playing in the NCAA tournament or the NIT next week. The Cougars played a ton of quality opponents this season, which would bode well for the Cougars. If I had to guess, BYU will be in the field of 68.

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Tags: Basketball Brigham Young Cougars BYU BYU Basketball BYU Cougars BYU Men's Basketball College Basketball Gonzaga Gonzaga Bulldogs WCC West Coast Conference