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No. 4 Gonzaga recovers from 1st loss, routs Pacific 82-50

No. 4 Gonzaga recovers from 1st loss, routs Pacific 82-50

By Mike Cranston, Associated Press | Posted - Mar. 4, 2017 at 11:31 p.m.

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LAS VEGAS (AP) — The focus for a week was on Gonzaga's first loss of the season. Minutes after the Bulldogs bounced back with a convincing victory, coach Mark Few wanted the spotlight on another number.

"That's 30 wins, people," Few said. "For us to be the first team to 30 this year is a great accomplishment for this team."

Jordan Matthews scored 22 points, Nigel Williams-Goss added 20 and No. 4 Gonzaga recovered from its first defeat and a sluggish first half to beat Pacific 82-50 on Saturday night in the West Coast Conference quarterfinals.

Playing a week after a stunning home loss to BYU ended their hopes for a perfect season, the Bulldogs (30-1) couldn't shake the Tigers (11-22) until Matthews keyed an 18-4 spurt to start the second half.

Then suddenly, the Zags returned to top form.

"We shot 55 (percent) from the floor, we outrebounded our opponent by 16, we had (four) turnovers in the second half, we stepped up and hit (21 of 25) free throws and our defensive numbers were stellar," Few said. "That's the process. We deviated from that (last week) and put ourselves at risk for dropping a game."

Matthews had a steal, three-point play and 3-pointer to put top-seeded Gonzaga ahead 45-29. The Bulldogs, who have won 12 straight WCC Tournament games, will play Santa Clara in a Monday semifinal. The Broncos beat San Francisco 76-69 earlier Saturday.

T.J. Wallace scored 21 points in his final college game and Ray Bowles added 14 for ninth-seeded Pacific, which was plagued by foul trouble in its 10th straight loss to Gonzaga.

"It's hard to sustain it against a team like that," Pacific coach Damon Stoudamire said. "We have to play flawless basketball."

The BYU loss dropped the Zags from the top spot in the AP Top 25, and they again looked disjointed early. Gonzaga missed 11 of 12 shots during one stretch in the first half, made sloppy turnovers and was only up 27-25 at halftime thanks to Pacific's 36 percent shooting.

With former Zags star John Stockton watching from the stands, Gonzaga was fueled by one key sequence in the first minute of the second half.

Matthews ripped the ball away from Bowles at midcourt and drove for a layup as Anthony Townes was called for his fourth foul before Matthews hit the free throw.

"Coach told us to be aggressive coming out of the half and bring some passion and some fire," Matthews said.

Less than three minutes later, fellow Pacific big man Tonko Vuko picked up his fourth foul as the Tigers struggled inside. Przemek Karnowski grabbed nine rebounds and Gonzaga held a 42-26 edge on the glass.

Williams-Goss added six rebounds and went 5 for 5 from the foul line to extend his streak to 43 straight makes.

"Nigel did a great job of finding his rhythm in the game by pushing the ball in transition," Stoudamire said. "He did a great job on us."


Pacific: Stoudamire, a former NBA guard, ended his first season as coach with a clear need to upgrade the roster. But he did get the Tigers a WCC Tournament win Friday, the first since they entered the league in 2013-14.

Gonzaga: There were plenty of groans in the Gonzaga-heavy crowd at halftime, but the Zags eventually looked like the team that dominated WCC opponents much of the regular season.


Williams-Goss, a Washington transfer who starred in high school at nearby Findlay Prep, experienced his first conference tournament win in Las Vegas. He was unsuccessful in the Pac-12 event.

"I didn't get a conference win my first two years," he said, "so it felt good."


Pacific: Stoudamire loses four seniors next season, but none of his top scorers, and welcomes Duquesne transfer TySean Powell.

Gonzaga: The Zags beat Santa Clara by 35 and 31 points during the regular season. Broncos coach Herb Sendek was uncertain if second-leading scorer K.J. Feagin (concussion) would play Monday night after sitting out Saturday.

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Mike Cranston


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