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Gonzaga Finishes Strong, Beats Pepperdine

A balanced attack pushed the Zags to their eighth straight win in conference play.

Przemek Karnowski has reason to be happy, he had a big night against Pepperdine.
Przemek Karnowski has reason to be happy, he had a big night against Pepperdine.
James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

Pepperdine started conference play strong, showing an ability to beat teams in the post and on the perimeter. Tonight, Gonzaga beat Pepperdine with both of those.

Outside, the Zags hit 10 of their 24 three point attempts (41.7%). Inside, Przemek Karnowski worked the smaller Waves' frontcourt for 17 points on 8-10 shooting. Kevin Pangos led the Zags' three point barrage, connecting on four of his ten attempts. Gary Bell Jr., David Stockton and Drew Barham each added two three point baskets.

The Waves couldn't get anything going from long-range, connecting on just three of 17 attempts (17.6%). So, they relied on their post game to try and upset the Zags. It worked, somewhat, as the Waves managed to stay close for most of the game. Stacy Davis, a reserve in name only, had 14 points on 6-10 shooting in 28 minutes of play. Brendan Lane added 12 points and also shot 6-10 from the field.

It was a fast start that saw both teams on a pace to pass 90 points. Back-to-back threes from Kevin Pangos broke a deadlock and gave the Zags a three possession lead at the under-12 media timeout.

The Zags would hold a multi-possession lead for the remainder of the half. Whenever the Waves threatened to make it a one-possession game, Gonzaga would knock down a three.

Stacy Davis went on a tear late in the half. He scored six straight points for the Waves and helped cut an 11 point deficit to eight at the break.

After the half, the Zags quickly ran out to a 50-36 lead. The backcourt duo of Kevin Pangos and Gary Bell were nearly unstoppable in the first portion of the second half. But, Marty Wilson's young Waves refused to roll over. Heading into the first media timeout of the half, the Waves scored five points in one minute.

The timeout didn't steal the momentum from the Waves. While the Zags continued scoring, the Waves slowly cut into the lead. Jett Raines' and-one made it a six point game. A minute later, with 12:42 left, Niko Skouen hit a jumper to cut the lead to four.

Gonzaga bounced back, but the Waves wouldn't go away. The lead fell to just four points, once again, with 10:40 to play. It would get no closer. The Zags began feeding the ball to Przemek Karnowski as often as possible. Over the final ten minutes of play, Karnowski recorded nine of his 17 points.

David Stockton was fouled by Stacy Davis on a breakaway lay-up with four and a half minutes remaining, just as the game started getting away from the Waves. A few Zags seemed unhappy with Davis' foul, and the referees needed to get in between some players. Mark Few was yelling at Karnowski and Bell from the sideline, pointing at his head as if to say "use your brain!" Nothing came of the minor incident and Stockton calmly hit both his free throws.

With that, Gonzaga led by 16. It was the largest lead of the night.

The Zags ran a clock wasting offense from the 1:40 mark until just 20 seconds remained. Two timely offensive rebounds kept the ball with the home team. When the Zags finally did lose possession, Mark Few emptied his bench. Game over, Gonzaga wins 83-68.

With the win, the Zags strengthen their grip on first place in the WCC. At 12-1, Gonzaga is 2.5 games up on BYU in the standings. BYU plays at Pacific tonight.