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Loyola Marymount vs Gonzaga

Zags oust Loyola Marymount in WCC semifinals

CBSSports.com wire reports
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LAS VEGAS -- For the first time in school history, Gonzaga stepped on the floor as the top-ranked team in the country.

Thanks to a second-half surge Saturday night in the semifinals of the West Coast conference tournament, it'll step on the floor Monday night in the championship game of the event as the nation's No. 1 team for a second straight week.

Elias Harris had 21 points and eight rebounds to lead Gonzaga over Loyola Marymount 66-48.

Bidding for a top seed in the NCAA tournament, the Bulldogs (30-2) advanced to play for the league championship against the winner of Saturday's late semifinal between Saint Mary's and San Diego.

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Challenged in the first half by a team that went 1-15 in WCC play this season, Gonzaga turned up the defensive intensity and opened the second half on a 19-5 run to seize momentum.

Though it needed a last-second basket by Sam Dower to take a 27-26 lead into halftime, Gonzaga outscored the Lions 39-22 in the second half.

Kevin Pangos added 14 points and Kelly Olynyk had eight points and eight rebounds for the Zags.

Anthony Ireland led Loyola Marymount (11-23) with 19 points.

"LMU is a bunch of fighters," Gonzaga coach Mark Few said. "They are tough and reflect the personality of their coach. I thought we played excellent defense all night, especially in the second half. We finally got our offense going in the second half."

After shooting 40 percent (8 of 20) from the field in the first half, including 4 of 10 from beyond the arc, the Lions shot a dismal 7 of 29 (24.1 percent) from the field in the second. LMU was an abysmal 1 of 10 from 3-point range.

Conversely, the Zags turned it around after a horrendous first half -- during which they went 9 of 24 from the field and 1 of 7 on 3s -- and was a blistering 11 of 22 from the floor, including 4 of 7 from long range.

"We played with more emotion in the second half," Harris said. "We came out flat in the beginning and knew we that we had to change that."

The Lions forced 45 turnovers -- and committed only 32 -- in their first three games of the tournament, but last night came up against a Gonzaga team much more disciplined than their previous foes, and bit more tenacious on defense. And while LMU committed 16 miscues, compared to Gonzaga's 13, the Bulldogs outscored the Lions 19-6 off turnovers.

Gonzaga also outrebounded the Lions 38-31, while outscoring them in the paint 28-12.

"I have tremendous respect for coach Few and the Gonzaga team," Loyola coach Max Good said. "They are very talented. They are well coached and play with a lot of class. Our lack of size hurt us against a team with the big men of Gonzaga. We had to hustle and scrap, which we did, but in the end it just wasn't enough."

Much of the Zags' domination came in the second half, though, as LMU refused to go away over the first 20 minutes. The Lions held Gonzaga scoreless early on, for a little more than three minutes, while going on a 9-0 run to take a 14-9 lead. The Bulldogs returned the favor by going on a 7-0 run, while holding Loyola scoreless for a bit less than three minutes, to take a 16-14 lead.

From there the two continued to play back and forth while neither built a margin bigger than two points, with the lead changing hands seven times over the final 4:16 of the half.

The ninth-seeded Lions, who posted one win in the first two months of the calendar year, tripled that figure in the WCC tournament with three straight wins to get to the semifinals.

LMU knocked off No. 8 Portland 65-54 on Wednesday to wedge its way into the bracket. The Lions upset No. 5 San Francisco 61-60 in overtime on Thursday then stunned fourth-seeded Santa Clara 60-58 on Friday.

Harris said the WCC tournament was "great preparation" for the NCAA championship games, saying "it's getting us well-prepared for the more competitive challenge."

The Bulldogs, who earned the WCC's top seed for the 13th time, were the first team to go 16-0 in the league in the two years of the 16-game format. It was their fourth undefeated West Coast campaign, also going unbeaten in 2004, 2006 and 2009, when the conference played a 14-game schedule, prior to BYU joining the conference.

"Over this great run with great players (a No. 1 national ranking and a 30-win season) are things that we have not been able to accomplish," Few said. "They are both special because it is a culmination of an entire year of work, not just a week or two of being hot."

Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
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Drew Barham's top-ranked Bulldogs make easy work of the Lions en route to an 18-point victory. (AP)
Drew Barham's top-ranked Bulldogs make easy work of the Lions en route to an 18-point victory. (AP)
Scoreboard
Loyola Marymount (11-22)262248
Gonzaga #1 (29-2) «273966
LOYMRY:A. Ireland 19 Pts
LOYMRY:N. Stover 7 Reb
LOYMRY:A. Ireland 2 Ast
GONZAG:E. Harris 21 Pts
GONZAG:E. Harris 8 Reb
GONZAG:K. Olynyk 4 Ast

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PLAYERS OF THE GAME
Loyola MarymountGonzaga
LOYMRY
Anthony Ireland
GONZAG
Elias Harris
PtsRebsAstPtsRebsAst
19622181
Loyola Marymount Lions
A. Ireland, G375-126-662319
A. Osborne, F353-61-23037
A. Hamilton, F262-111-45055
T. Walker, G211-50-02143
G. Okonji, F190-32-21042
N. Stover, F302-73-47138
B. English, G171-40-12202
M. Mornar, F81-10-01012
C. Flint, G70-00-00010
A. Drexler, F10-00-00000
A. Egbeyemi, GDid Not Play
B. Dickinson, FDid Not Play
C. Blackwell, FDid Not Play
T. Adams, FDid Not Play
F. Kannike, GDid Not Play
Totals 1-40-22042
 25.0%0.0% 
Gonzaga Bulldogs
K. Pangos, G345-92-321214
E. Harris, F336-98-1281221
G. Bell Jr., G312-62-42028
M. Hart, G240-00-05120
K. Olynyk, F233-102-28428
D. Stockton, G190-30-21430
S. Dower, C143-70-03036
P. Karnowski, C81-13-45015
D. Barham, G60-10-02110
K. Dranginis, G60-00-00000
G. Landry Edi, F20-04-41004
G. Coleman, GDid Not Play
R. Bakamus, GDid Not Play
B. Bhaskar, GDid Not Play
Totals 2-83-47027
 25.0%75.0% 
West Coast
TeamConf. W-LTot. W-LRPI Rank
BYU0-03-0127
Gonzaga0-03-010
Pepperdine0-03-0183
Portland0-02-0206
San Fran.0-02-0227
St. Marys0-02-083
San Diego0-02-1182
Santa Clara0-02-1166
Loyola-Mary.0-01-1181
Pacific0-01-1258
 
Other games
NW 71 Final
MEMP 86
SYR 39 Final
GU 61
FLA 57 Final
UK 61
LAS 54 Final
STL 78
KSU 70 Final
OKST 76
PITT 81 Final
DEP 66
MU 69 Final
SJU 67
UCLA 61 Final
WASH 54
CLEM 49 Final
UM 62
ORE 62 Final
UTAH 72
ND 57 Final
LOU 73
AZST 58 Final
ARIZ 73
NMEX 88 Final
AF 89
KAN 58 Final
BAYL 81
DUKE 69 Final
UNC 53