WCC Tournament Recap: Gonzaga Again Overcomes Slow Start, Beats Pepperdine


For the second game in a row, the Gonzaga Bulldogs struggled in the first half against and inferior. But also for the second game in a row, they surged ahead in the second and turned what was a close game at halftime into a dominating. The Bullldogs led by only two points at halftime, but they ended the game with a convincing 79-61 victory over the Pepperdine Waves in the semifinals of the WCC Tournament on Monday.

Domantas Sabonis and Kevin Pangos missed most of the first half after picking up early fouls, and it showed as the Waves kept pace with the Bulldogs the entire half. The Waves got very balanced scoring as 5 different players had at least 6 or more points by halftime. However, superior talent prevailed as the Bulldogs still took a slim lead into the locker room. The Waves were able to compete inside without the aggressive rebounding of Sabonis in the game, but Byron Wesley led the way with the scoring to keep the Bulldogs in front,

Coming out of halftime, the Bulldogs embarked on a 30-12 run to pull away and turn a close game into a lopsided victory as the Waves never got close again. Wesley and Kyle Wiltjer led the way with 25 and 17 points. Przemek Karnowski was the third Bulldogs in double figures.

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The Waves struggled to find offense in the second as they became overwhelmed on both ends of the court trying to keep pace. Despite the balanced scoring in the first half, only Stacy Davis and Jeremy Major finished in double figures. Three point shooting continues to be an issue for the Waves as they shot just 4-15 from long range. Their normally elite perimeter was not backing them up either as the Zags went 8-17 from beyond the arc by comparison.

Pepperdine heads home and will now await their postseason fate. They are expected to make a third-tier tournament, and most signs indicate an appearance in the CBI Tournamet. With no seniors on the roster, the future is bright after a strong breakout season.

Gonzaga moves on to their 16th straight WCC Tournament final where they will face BYU. The Cougars got a dominant win over Portland in the second semifinal on Monday. It should be an exciting game after the dramatic upset by the Cougars over the Bulldogs in their last meeting in Spokane less than two weeks ago.