Las Vegas, NV – The two top seeds met in the West Coast Conference championship game with the nationally No. 7-rated and No. 1-seed Gonzaga Bulldogs facing the No.2-seed BYU Cougars. Gonzaga used their interior strength to top BYU 91-75 in an exciting contest played before a capacity crowd of 8,585 at the Orleans Arena. Kyle Wiltjer led five Bulldogs in double-figures with 18 points and 10 rebounds. Kyle Collinsworth continued his exceptional play for BYU scoring 28 points to go along with eight rebounds and five assists.
Gonzaga’s Kevin Pangos had his best game of the event, scoring several key baskets and ending up with 15 points on 5-of-8 shooting and added five assists. Domantis Sabonis came off the bench in the first half to replace 7’0 center Przemek Karnowski who only played four first half minutes after picking up an early second foul. Sabonis also posted his top game of the tournament in scoring 15 points and grabbing six rebounds in only 18 minutes of action. Karnowski (12 points) came on in the second half and scored three consecutive baskets to give Gonzaga an eight-point lead that they did not relinquish.
Wiltjer was named the most outstanding player of the tournament and was joined on the All-Tournament team by Pangos and Karnowski as well as BYU’s Collinsworth and Tyler Haws.
Gonzaga’s three key international players all performed well this week. Besides Karnowski (Poland) the Zags have senior point guard Pangos (Canada) and 6’10” freshmen Sabonis (Lithuania) in important roles.
Karnowski played one of his better games of the season scoring 24 points on 10-of-14 shooting in the Zags 81-72 win over USF in the quarter-finals. He followed that up with 13 points on 6-of-7 from the field as Gonzaga ran away from Pepperdine 79-61 in the semifinals. He averaged 16.3 point over the three games on 20-of-29 (69 percent) shooting. In his time at Gonzaga Karnowski has gotten in much better shape. While not the quickest or most athletic player he can use his size advantage to score inside. Another year of school would be to his advantage to improve his body, stamina, athleticism and overall game.
Pangos has been a solid starter at point guard over his four year career in Spokane. He saved his best game of the tournament for last and averaged 10.3 points, 5.3 assists and only 1.3 turnovers over the three games. Sabonis averaged 7.0 points and 6.7 rebounds in playing about half of each of the three games, We expect Wiltjer, Karnowski and Sabonis to return to Gonzaga next season when the Zags big change will be to find a reliable point guard to replace the then-graduated Pangos.
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