Spokane, WA– Thursday night’s WCC match-up featured Gonzaga (22-4, 12-1) vs. Pepperdine (14-12, 7-7) at the Kennel. The Zags were looking to rebound off Saturday’s road loss to Memphis and build momentum into the final weeks of the regular season and the start of the WCC Tournament.
The first half featured a back and forth scoring fest with the Zags pulling ahead in the last seven minutes of the half to go up 42-34 over the Waves.
The Zags were able to hold off a few Wave scoring runs in the first half, by shooting 7-of-14 from three point range led by Kevin Pangos (6’2, 182, Jr.) 3-of-7 shooting, nine points and shooting ace Drew Barham (6’6, 185, Sr.) going 2-of-2 from beyond the arc.
Pepperdine came out in a match-up zone defense with focused heavily on limiting touches for Gonzaga post players Sam Dower (6’9, 255, Sr.) and Przemek Karnowski (7’1, 305, So.). Despite the Waves efforts Dower chipped in five points and three rebounds to accompany Karnowski’s six points and four rebounds in the 1st half.
Offensively in the first half the Waves ran a very patient motion offense that allowed them to get open looks for shots and drives to the basket. At half the Waves were led in scoring by senior and UCLA PF transfer Brendan Lane’s (6’9, 235) eight points and followed by Norwegian born and fellow senior SG Nikolas Skouen (6’4, 195) seven points.
Seven seconds into the second half Gonzaga junior combo-guard Gary Bell (6’1, 220) stole the ball from Pepperdine’s Malcolm Brooks and took it the full-court where he earned a trip to the foul-line and showed the Zags were all about business in the second half, which carried them to a 83-68 win over the Waves.
The Zags finished with four starters in double figures being led by senior PG David Stockton (5’11, 165) and Pangos’ 18 points. Stockton simply tore up the Pepperdine match-up zone and man defenses in the second half, by dishing out five assists and allowed Karnowsi, who finished with 17 points and seven rebounds, to get easy open looks around the basket. Stockton’s play-making also opened perimeter shots for Bell (11 points, seven rebounds on 2-of-6 3PT) and Pangos (4-of-10 3PT).
Pepperdine fought hard all night, but was unable to get within striking distance of the Zags. They were led by Sophomore F Stacy Davis, the Waves version of Charles Barkley, who came alive off the bench to score a team high 14 points and pull down five rebounds. Lane and Skouen had solid second half play, with Lane scoring 12 points and grabbing six rebounds to go with Skouen’s 12 points on 5-of-8 shooting.
The Zags have a solid lead atop the WCC standings and will take on Loyola Marymount for their final home game of the season on Saturday. Pepperdine travels to Portland to take on the Pilots Saturday.