Gonzaga Defeats Pacific, Wins Another WCC Title

Gary Bell Jr. (5), David Stockton (11) and the Zags smothered the Tigers in Stockton. - Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

The Zags snapped their two game losing streak in probably the best possible way, by winning both a game and a conference championship.

The game ended with a final score of Gonzaga 70, Pacific 53. An score that harkens back to the Gonzaga of old.

Gonzaga ran out to an 8-0 lead fueled by Sam Dower while Pacific failed to score until after the sub-16:00 media timeout.

The Tigers roared out of the timeout. It took over five minutes for Pacific to get on the board, but once they did they started moving quickly. Back-to-back threes made it a two point game. Two and a half minutes after scoring their first points, the Tigers had a 12-11 lead.

Drew Barham wanted nothing to do with the Tigers' runs.

His answer to the Tigers consecutive threes? A three of his own. His answer to the Tigers taking a 14-13 lead? A three. The Tigers promptly tied the game again, off a Ross Rivera jumper, but Barham's attitude had rubbed off on his teammates.

The game was once again tied, this time at 16 all, but the Zags took over from there. Gonzaga went on a 13-0 run over three minutes and a 24-12 run to close out the half.

A complete collapse from the Tigers came seemingly out of nowhere. Early in the Zags' run the Tigers were called for a shot clock violation. What's worse, that violation came immediately after Ron Verlin called a timeout to draw up a play. Half a minute later, at 6:16, Aaron Short argued with an official over a foul call. Officials don't like to be argued with, so they often assess technical fouls when being argued with. That was the case here.

At the half the Zags led 40-28.

Gonzaga had been sluggish coming out of the locker rooms over the past few games, especially so in recent losses to Memphis, BYU and San Diego. Tonight, the Zags picked up right where they left off.

Gary Bell Jr. hit a three at the 16:10 mark of the second half that gave the Zags a 20 point lead and forced a Pacific timeout.

It didn't help much. Tim Thomas turned the ball over on the following play. Then, Ross Rivera picked up a foul as the Zags moved into their offense. Sam Dower hit both free throws and the Zags led by 22 points.

The Gonzaga lead would hover around 20 for the remainder of the game.

Drew Barham, who's hustle sparked the Zags' run in the first half, was big in the second as well. He scored five points between the 10:55 and 10:33 mark. The first points on an acrobatic reverse lay-up off a feed from Gerard Coleman (the Zag who usually makes those sort of baskets). The second in transition, after a Coleman steal, was a three (a typical Barham basket).

Barham recorded 17 points which ties his career high.

Freshman big man Ryan Edwards played nine minutes tonight. His presence was both a welcome and unwelcome sight for the Zags. He was able to play because the Zags had a massive lead. But, he also played in the first half because the Gonzaga bigs got into major foul trouble early.

Both Przemek Karnowski and Sam Dower had four fouls tonight. Drew Barham, who plays stretch four when needed, also had four fouls.

In the end, it didn't matter who was on the floor for Gonzaga. The Zags were simply superior to the Tigers tonight.

Kevin Pangos was the game's leader with 18 points.

With the victory, Gonzaga has clinched the top seed in the WCC Tournament. Put another way, the Zags have locked up sole possession of the WCC regular season crown. This is the second straight year Gonzaga has won the crown and the 16th time in the last 18 years.

For the Tigers, they're now mathematically unable to work their way into position for a bye in the conference tournament.

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