No. 1 Gonzaga downs LMU in WCC semis
Las Vegas, NV (Sports Network) - Elias Harris scored a game-high 21 points and grabbed eight rebounds, as Gonzaga earned its first-ever victory as a No. 1 team with a 66-48 triumph over Loyola Marymount in a semifinal matchup in the West Coast Conference Tournament on Saturday at Orleans Arena.
Kevin Pangos followed with 14 points, while Gary Bell, Jr. and WCC Player of the Year Kelly Olynyk added eight points apiece for the Bulldogs (30-2), who have won 13 straight games and are headed to the WCC title game for the 16th straight season.
Gonzaga will be vying for its 12th tourney crown since 1995 when they take on defending champion St. Mary's in Monday's title game after the Gaels defeated San Diego later on Saturday.
Anthony Ireland led the Lions (11-23) with 19 points and six boards.
"Our lack of size hurt us against a team with the big men of Gonzaga," Loyola Marymount coach Max Good admitted. "We had to hustle and scrap which we did, but in the end it just wasn't enough."
LMU held the Bulldogs to 9-of-24 shooting from the field, including 1-of-7 from 3-point range, in the first half to stay within one, 27-26, at the break.
The margin was one, 32-31, just under two minutes into the second half before Gonzaga came to life, as a Pangos jumper sparked a 18-2 surge that Harris capped with back-to-back buckets to make it 50-33 at the midpoint of the frame.
The Lions answered with five straight points to pull within 12, but Harris countered with a personal 6-0 sprint to push the margin to 18 with 4:18 remaining.
"We played with more emotion in the second half," Harris said. "We came out flat in the beginning and we knew that we had to change that."
LMU never got closer than 16 the rest of the way.
Gonzaga won all three meetings with LMU this season by double-digits and has taken eight straight in the series overall ... Gonzaga shot 43.5 percent from the field, while LMU shot 30.6 percent from the floor ... Olynyk also added eight rebounds and four assists.
03/10 03:26:00 ET