Neither team had an easy time scoring in the early going. Gonzaga started at just 13% from the field while LMU wasn't much better, connecting on just 25% of their first shots. Sam Dower was especially ineffective early. The senior was the focus of the offense over the first three minutes but made just one of six shots.
The Zags kept feeding the big man, who leads the team with field goal percentage of 62.7%. He came through. After his awful start he went on a tear, closing out the half making six of eight shots. He finished one rebound shy of a first half double-double, 14 points and nine rebounds.
Gonzaga's super athletic bench tandem of Gerard Coleman and Angel Nunez made their presence felt as well. Nunez had just two first half points but they came on an impressive alley-oop from Kevin Pangos. Coleman slashed his way to 11 points.
The play of the half was a Coleman steal and lay-up off an LMU inbounds. That gave the Gonzaga a 24-17 lead with 8:17 left. The Zags were playing with far more energy than the Lions in the first half.
Coming out of the break, it was as if the two teams had switched styles. Gonzaga was lackadaisical, committing turnovers and seemingly not caring about any loose ball. The Lions were diving to the floor left and right. The result was a 10-0 run to pull even at 48 with 15:12 left in the game. They would take their only lead of the half, two points, just a minute later.
Evan Payne continued his fantastic freshman season as he led the team with 19 points and was the spark to the Lions' run. His aggressive play would, however, come back to haunt him and his team.
Payne picked up his fourth foul at the 10:55 mark. Gonzaga went off on a 13-2 which extended the lead to 70-57. Payne returned to the floor with over six minutes to play but he wasn't enough.
Dower finished with a career high 28 points, one better than his previous high set nearly three years ago. He also pulled down 14 rebounds. His career day was neccessary as Kevin Pangos (16.2 ppg) had just three points on 1-11 shooting. Drew Barham continued his hot streak from where he went four of five. He finished with 16 points.
For LMU, Anthony Ireland had another stellar game. The senior finished one assist shy of a point guard's double-double, 13 points and nine assists. He played all but one minute of the game.
Oh, one more thing about Dower. Plenty of players score 1,000 career points. Not many are able to achieve that feat when they spend their first three years coming off the bench. Dower was stuck behind Robert Sacre, Elias Harris and Kelly Olynyk, all three of whom made NBA rosters this season (though Harris was cut back in December).
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