Gonzaga wins another West Coast Conference title

Bulldogs win their 13th conference tourney title

By

Published:

 

LAS VEGAS -- Gonzaga has been the class of the West Coast Conference, regular hoisting regular-season and tournament trophies for nearly two decades.

Even for a team such as this, finishing off another title sweep is a feel-good accomplishment.

Sam Dower Jr. had 20 points and 13 rebounds, and Gonzaga held its ground during a second-half rally to beat BYU 75-64 Tuesday night for its 13th WCC championship.

"It never gets old. Never gets old," Gonzaga coach Mark Few said. "It's obviously something we start talking about it and prepare for way back in the summer. For these guys to step up and make it happen, not only in the regular season but to win here and not share, is just an awesome, awesome accomplishment."

Gonzaga (28-6) raced out to a 21-point lead in the first half, taking advantage of the Cougars' late overtime game the night before. Once the Cougars got their legs and started chipping away at the lead, the Bulldogs had an answer, leaving no doubt about the NCAA Tournament by earning the conference's automatic bid.

Gary Bell Jr. had 14 points and David Stockton dished out seven assists to send the Bulldogs to the NCAA Tournament for the 16th consecutive year.

"We came in with the mindset and us controlling being in the tournament," Stockton said. "We didn't try to think about that, just winning the next game."

BYU (23-11) rallied after a dismal first half, pulling within eight with 3 minutes left. The Cougars could not finish off the comeback and now have a long five-day wait until Selection Sunday.

Tyler Haws had 24 points and Kyle Collinsworth added 13 before leaving with a right leg injury in the second half.

"They really went after us at the start," Cougars coach Dave Rose said. "But our guys battled. We battled the whole game, got it to single digits, but couldn't get over the hump."

Gonzaga and BYU split two meetings during the regular season.

The Zags won the first one by 15 after hitting 10 of 22 3-pointers in Spokane.

The Cougars were much better guarding the perimeter in Provo, limiting the Bulldogs to 4 of 18 shooting from 3-point range.

Playing in its 17th consecutive WCC final, Gonzaga dominated early in the rubber match with a nearly perfect first half.

Offensively, the Bulldogs built a quick nine-point lead and kept pouring it on behind Dower, who had 14 points on 7-of-11 shooting in the first half.

Gonzaga was just as good defensively, contesting shots inside and getting out to BYU's shooters on the perimeter. The Cougars struggled against the Bulldogs' pressure, missing 11 of their first 15 shots on their way to a 9-for-27 half.

Gonzaga led by as much as 21 in the first half and was up 44-27 at the break.

"From a coaching standpoint, that's how you want your guys this time of year," Few said. "It's the biggest stage thus far and we were in attack mode, we were playing great defense."

Gonzaga led 53-33 early in the second half. BYU closed within eight points with 2:56 remaining, but got no closer, leaving the Cougars to wait to see if the selection committee believes their resume is good enough for an NCAA Tournament bid.