Gonzaga Wins Men’s WCC Championship


After the BYU Cougars upset the Gonzaga Bulldogs to end the regular season, snapping the nation’s longest home win streak in the process, it brought a new unpredictability to the WCC Tournament in Las Vegas. Once a lock to roll through the tournament just like they had the regular season, the Bulldogs suddenly had a legitimate threat to their dominance in the Cougars.

March 10, 2015; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Gonzaga Bulldogs forward Kyle Wiltjer (33) celebrates against the Brigham Young Cougars during the first half in the finals of the West Coast Conference tournament at Orleans Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

The anticipation built as both teams survived some competitive games to set up a rematch in the final on Tuesday. But in the end, the Bulldogs managed to remove much of the excitement as they controlled most of the game on their way to a 91-75 victory and another WCC Championship. It marks the third consecutive and 14th overall WCC Tournament Championship for the Bulldogs.

The Bulldogs had a much better first half than compared to their games against San Francisco and Pepperdine in the first two rounds, but the Cougars still managed to keep things close. The 48-42 lead probably should have been larger as the Cougars struggled shooting and suffered from foul trouble inside. Kyle Collinsworth helped the Cougars stay close setting a career-high for points in the half.

In the second half, the Cougars continued to keep the margin steady but could not manage to cut the gap. They cut the lead to 54-52 a little over three minutes into the second half, but the Cougars would not get close again as the Bulldogs eventually built a double-digit lead that held through most of the second half.

It was an offensive outburst for the Bulldogs as they put up 90+ points for just the second time in WCC play. Six different players scored in double-figures for the Bulldogs led by a double-double from Kyle Wiltjer who had 18 points and 10 rebounds. They shot a robust 53.7% from field goal range and went 8-12 on three pointers.

The Cougars struggled for offense in comparison, Collinsworth continued his surge with a game-high 28 points, but Tyler Haws and Skyler Halford were the only other Cougars to reach double-figures. The Cougars shot 40.3% from field goal range and 6-15 from three point range. Chase Fischer finished with just 6 points and did not make a three pointer after he hit six in the semifinal win over Portland.

More from 2015 WCC Tournament

The complete team effort by Gonzaga was one of their best all season. They were dominant inside and got a full team effort. They will take their momentum into the NCAA Tournament where they should maintain their current status as a #2 overall seed. They were a lock to make the postseason even before the WCC Tournament, but this convincing bounceback win over BYU after the upset loss in their last meeting will be a good confidence builder as they look to avoid another disappointing early exit from the Big Dance.

The Cougars will have to sweat it out until Selection Sunday as they are still on the bubble and will remain there after failing to lock up the conference’s automatic bid. They are currently listed among the last four teams in the field on most major bracket projections. While they had trouble keeping it close against the Bulldogs, they likely didn’t do enough damage to their status to knock them out of the field. However, they will need to hope that very few underdog teams make surprise runs to win other conference tournaments. Too many automatic bids going to unheralded teams could cause there to be not enough at-large bids left to include the Cougars.