Las Vegas, NV (SportsNetwork.com) - The West Coast Conference Tournament semifinal round opens with a matchup pitting the fourth-seeded Pepperdine Waves against the seventh-ranked and top-seeded Gonzaga Bulldogs at Orleans Arena Monday night.
The winner of this contest moves on to the title bout Tuesday to face either Portland or BYU, which play the late game on Monday.
Pepperdine advanced to the semifinals after taking down San Diego in the quarterfinals Saturday, 50-47. The Waves have won their last two games, and three of their last four overall to reach the semifinal round.
Gonzaga made quick work of San Francisco on Saturday in the quarterfinals, 81-72, to advance through to the semis. The Bulldogs got back in the win column after suffering a regular season-ending defeat (and their first conference loss) against BYU last Saturday.
The two programs met twice during the regular season, which saw the Bulldogs take both contest. Neither was a runaway though, as Gonzaga beat Pepperdine in Malibu, 78-76, and then in Spokane, 56-48, midway through February.
Pepperdine put the clamps down defensively against San Diego on Saturday. The Toreros were only able to connect on 31.7 percent of their shots from the floor, which included a 3-of-14 mark from 3-point distance. Pepperdine, meanwhile, hit on 41.9 percent of their field goal attempts, and was able to come back from an eight-point deficit that San Diego held early on in the second half. Stacy Davis netted 19 points and grabbed eight rebounds in the win, while Jeremy Major and Shawn Olden each added seven points to help the winning effort.
Davis enters the semifinal matchup leading the team in scoring with 15.9 ppg, adding in a team-best 7.9 rpg to his stat line. He's joined in the double- digit scoring category by Jett Raines, who tallies 10.9 ppg for a squad that is netting 63.8 ppg on 42.7 percent shooting. The Waves have prided themselves on defense this season, allowing 61.0 ppg and 40.7 percent shooting to opponents. In Pepperdine's last outing against Gonzaga, Davis led the charge with 13 points while Lamond Murray Jr. chipped in 11 off the bench. The Waves went 0- of-10 shooting from 3-point range in the eight-point loss to the Zags.
Gonzaga got a bit of a scare from San Francisco Saturday, as the Dons went into halftime with a 29-27 lead over the Zags. But Gonzaga turned it up in the second half behind 75 percent shooting, allowing the Bulldogs to make a comeback and earn the nine-point win to move on. Przemek Karnowski netted 24 points to lead the Bulldogs in the win, while Kyle Wiltjer added 19 points with eight rebounds. Kevin Pangos chipped in 10 points and five assists before he fouled out, and Kyle Dranginis contributed another 10. Gonzaga finished the contest shooting 52.7 percent from the floor.
Wiltjer enters the game leading the team in scoring this season at 16.6 ppg, adding in 5.8 rpg to finish second on the team behind Domantas Sabonis's 7.0 rpg. Pangos (11.6 ppg), Karnowski (10.9 ppg) and Byron Wesley (10.6 ppg) round out a group of double-digit scorers for the Bulldogs. As a unit, Gonzaga is scoring 78.8 ppg, which ranks second in the conference behind BYU. Pangos scored 19 points the last time Gonzaga played Pepperdine, and Wiltjer finished with 13 points and six rebounds. The Zags connected on 11-of-12 shooting from the free-throw line in that contest to help them win.